In the main Gallery Roebling Hall presents Six Apartments a poetic document of decline and deterioration, both physical and ideal, hypnotic and melancholic. Six isolated occupants of six different apartments live their lives unaware of each other. Without drama they eat food, wander between rooms, bathe, watch television, and sleep. For them, this is life.
Yet whilst it may appear that nothing is happening here, the apartment building and its inhabitants’ bodies are aging, giving way to bacteria, larva, and finally transformation. Everything is in a state of resolute conversion. Immense drama does exist: chaos overcomes order; rot supersedes life; small destroys large. The occupants’ lives are sinking slowly towards death according to the deliberate, methodical rhythms of their uniform days. This insistent erosion of both bodies and building, however, also reveals the ever active potential of death and its material processes.
An old woman is playing cards; she is dying. A man is listening to the radio; discomposed interiors of activity relentlessly eat away at him. All of the tenants are victims of the realities of physical deterioration as well as of their own psychological attempts to accept the attendant struggle with death. In their passivity and isolation, the inhabitants emerge as the true form of death, while the rooms they inhabit maintain the ongoing transformation of life. The potential of life, then, exists only in the process of death. Eventually all forms of life are consumed by new life. The implacability of decay results in an explosion of life.
Reynolds’ Six Apartments sustains a mood of hopelessness, or perhaps more optimistically, one of melancholia, and even if the occupants remain unaware, the viewer sees: in death lies a great activity of life.