8a, 2012, Clay and underglaze, 7.5 X 7.5 in.
Leah Wolff “From intuition one can pass to analysis, but not from analysis to intuition.” -Henri Bergson, An Introduction to Metaphysics
Scaramouche is pleased to present “It’s Been Hours” the first New York solo exhibition of artist Leah Wolff. Inspired by posits in quantum geometry and string theory, Wolff’s artistic practice is an investigation into these all encompassing and fixed modes of scientific analysis. Rather than turning away from the enormity of these studies of the cosmos and our small place within it, the process and product of Wolff’s acts of creation are her exploration of humanity’s cognitive boundaries.
For Wolff and indeed the scientific community at large, the universe has been proven to be on the micro level immeasurable and on the macro level far too vast to be knowable. Positivism asserts that observational evidence is indispensable to forming our knowledge of the cosmos, and that all things are ultimately measurable. Conversely Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle maintains that it is impossible to measure an electron’s position and momentum, causing a standstill between modern scientific methodology and our chance for analytical understanding. Only a small privileged class of scientists has access to the technology needed to verify these endeavors, which makes modern science the institutional gatekeeper for the search for higher meaning. Ultimately this fosters an intellectual disconnect between the logical individual and their imperceptible surroundings.
“It’s Been Hours” presents sculptured clay forms and works on paper that depict these impossible phenomena in a communal context, constructing a new observer-based method of scientific evaluation. Utilizing methods that are chiefly recognized as handwork, Wolff’s compositions are governed by the tension and kinetic energy oscillating between her imprecise forms and the accurate yet unattainable scientific models.
In Wolff’s series Impossible Shapes, two-dimensional forms are depicted with three-dimensional glazing, generating a query between what is perceived and what really exists. While in Modular Dome, fired clay pieces are arranged like a molecular structure, effectively rendering the imperceptible, and making the invisible both visible and accessible to the lay individual.
Henri Bergson similarly applies this concept to the understanding of time in his Creative Evolution. Time’s measurement is at odds with its nature, which is always relative to the position and speed of the observer. Measuring time (in seconds, minutes, etc.) does a disservice to how we intuitively understand its duration, which is always relative to the consciousness that experiences it. Wolff’s Clocks series highlights this more perceptive understanding of time through the observer’s encounter with the work, instead of its typical method of demarcation.
Wolff’s sculptures serve as demonstrative devices that offer understanding of space and structure through the physicality of the object. As she continues to play with the visualization and fundamental elements of scientific theory, Wolff’s works inspire new concepts of personal discovery, functioning as a method of research where meaning is gathered through making.
Leah Wolff (b. 1984 Cleveland, OH) lives and works in New York. She received an MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University in 2011, and a BFA in Print Making with honors at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2006. Recent exhibitions include NADA New York in the ARTIS special rooftop exhibition “The Artis Shuk”; “Creative Nonfiction” at Kunsthalle Galapagos, New York; “Block Party” at SculptureCenter, New York; and “Bread and Roses” at the Minshar Gallery in Tel-Aviv, Israel. She is the recipient of the Art-in-Residence at Ocean Breeze, Bat Yam, Israel; Byrdcliffe Artists Guild, Woodstock, NY; and the Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont.