New York

Kristin Jones/Andrew Ginzel

Damon Brandt Gallery

Though the pursuit of visual delight is not intrinsically perilous, it becomes a problem when ideas are overshadowed rather than illuminated by sensational effects. In this exhibition of three new projects by Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel, the meditative qualities of the work and the cosmological questions they pose are sometimes jeopardized by their lush materiality and fastidious detailing.

At the east end of the gallery an immense aluminum saucer of pure, white talc was alternately raked and smoothed by a pair of opposing blades that together formed a rotating diameter. The predictable plowing movement suggests the cyclical agricultural seasons—the perennial planting, harvesting and raking of the land. But the blades make another, more ominous point: that any attempt at order is inevitably impermanent. The repetitious movement characteristic of much of the artists’ work, produces hypnotic effects—the detached placidity associated with altered states of consciousness.

On the opposite wall another enormous clocklike fixture made of fiberglass fishing rods covered with gold leaf slowly revolved. Rather than the usual 12 calibrations, there were 23 rays issuing from the center, and each golden rod pointed to a small glass saucer holding a piece of crumpled, charred paper, save one. The almost immaterial carbon remains were provided a theatrical foil in the form of a much larger glass disk containing water and floating leaves, which served as a reminder that time is both linear and cyclical, a measure of decay as well as of rejuvenation.

The third project, a triptych commissioned by a California-based law firm, has a more forced and calculated composition. The three equal-sized panels suggest a passage from order to entropy. The first is a balanced composition of a pendulumlike glass sphere suspended beyond the rippling red and gray atmospheric background, the middle panel consists of a golden amphitheater whose edge has fractured and dematerialized so that the meanings once embodied and conveyed in form suddenly drift into a scattered, indeterminate state, and the third panel is an apocalyptic scene. In the top right corner of the last is a pure black depression; a great incision cuts diagonally across the smoky, black and gray surface, and charred embers are scattered across a lifeless, lunar field.

In a world preoccupied with violent cultural adjustments, Jones and Ginzel’s projects are dedicated to transporting the viewer to a psychological and spiritual region that is timeless and virtually unaffected by quotidian events. Though some viewers may see their work as hopelessly nostalgic––a retreat from the difficulties and incongruities of living in the late 20th century—the work is far more aggressive than this, and their concern with the idea of death and the measurement of time moves these pieces well beyond pleasing effects.

Patricia C. Phillips