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Sam Falls

American Contemporary
4 East 2nd Street, 347.789.7072
East Village / Lower East Side
May 10 - June 24, 2012
Reception: Thursday, May 10, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

OPENING TIMES: Wednesday to Sunday 12 to 6pm

The work in this show is a continuation of my involvement with representing time and space, as well as picturing the specific formal properties of various materials, utilized as both subject and object. As I’ve explored the photographic medium and attempted to break down its alienating characteristics, such as its professional materials or the depiction of an inaccessible time past, I’ve arrived at a place where I’m implementing its inherent immaterial traits – time, representation, and indexicality – as catalysts for interaction with various other art-forms. The goal is to collapse the subject and medium to produce an object that is inextricably linked with its process in order to involve the viewer in the timeline of production rather than display an inert moment from the past. As I move forward in dealing with the questions surrounding representation, the work accumulates to something human and emotional while illustrating the universal actions of the world we live in.

For the Joshua Tree pieces I hand dyed linen with natural colors to tune in with the environment and wrapped the fabric around rocks that acted as directive cairns within the landscape – functioning as colored beacons leading the viewer on a walk from one to the next during a temporary installation at High Desert Test Sites in 2011. They were left wrapped around the rocks for nearly four months so the shape of the rock is exposed or photographically “burnt” into the fabric while the rest of the material is shaded and the color preserved under the rock or in a crevice of the boulders. Heavyweight organic linen was used to match the harshness of the high desert climate, withstanding the elements while absorbing the salt from the rocks which succeeds in not only picturing the boulders by exposure to sunlight, but also literally inheriting the weather and material, allowing the artwork to fully become a representation of Joshua Tree and transpose its essence.

As I’ve been working with sunlight and its capacity to represent a duration of time on various substrates, I’ve been exploring other ways to picture time and collaborate with nature to produce a sense of place within an object. Over the winter in Topanga Canyon I used firewood as a readily available and commonplace subject to illustrate the rainfall and produce an image of the wood itself. The counteracting elements of fire and rain are spoken to as powdered pigment was placed on each piece of wood that sat on top of terry cloth outdoors so as it rained the dry pigments were splashed onto the surface. One color is given to each piece of wood, but each pigment itself is composed of various colors, so as the dye is splashed off the wood to the terry cloth we see the pattern of rain and its separation of the colors as the large drops that hit the wood hard shower unique pigments afar while the areas that are closer to the wood mix and produce a more homogenous color. Just as the linen was used in Joshua Tree for its durability, the terry cloth was chosen for its absorbent property and the domestic reference is also appropriate since they were made in the yard of my house. The terry cloth pieces with more color depict a day of heavy rainfall while the less saturated pieces show a day of light and infrequent rain. The wood is illustrated on the fabric as a negative image – we see where the cloth was protected by the wood and the sculpture represents this cost on the wood itself. Wood functions as a useful substrate as well – the porous predecessor of paper – and as the rain catalyzed the dye it was dually absorbed into the wood as well. The sculpture is composed of one cord of wood, the basic volume measuring unit of firewood.

The hose images on burlap are made with perforated, domestic irrigation hoses. I laid these hoses on burlap, another common gardening material, and poured in two fabric dye colors at either end through a hole cut into the hose. I plugged the end of the hose and ran water through it so the colors seep out onto the fabric and outline the hose. When the water reaches the end of the hose it backs up and the dyes mix to produce variations of a third color. Like the sun fades, these pieces are direct representations of the subject at hand on the substrate and, though not technically photographic in nature, it is a true illustration of the hose. As water is the intended medium to flow through a hose, its mixture with fabric dye allows the subject’s intended utilitarian nature to be traced.

The aluminum sculpture is powder coated with two different composites of pigment. Each piece is fully covered in a UV protected pigment, and then the inside is re-coated with a non-UV protected pigment. So, though each respective panel appears to be the same color on either side now, the sides facing inwards will all fade in the sun. The form that each sculpture takes dictates the shadows that fall on the inside of the sculpture and the gradient of sunlight is revealed over time, burned into the sculpture like a photograph. Though the image is seemingly abstract, it is the shape of the sculpture itself that is represented. The goal of these sculptures is to be permanently installed outdoors so not only do they become a representation of their form, but also the specific path of sunlight for the site in which they are ultimately installed. In contrast to most outdoor sculpture intended to defy the burden of time, these sculptures grow symbiotically with time and age, just as we do. Eventually the inside pigment will fully fade away and the coat of exterior pigment underneath that has been hidden will slowly begin to appear reversing the process – the most exposed parts will become saturated again and the composition will inverse until the sculpture is returned to its original all-over composition- you know, like birth and death.

The granite, bronze and aluminum sculptures speak more directly to life and death as they are inspired by 19th century gravestones from Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Similar to the colored aluminum sculptures, these pieces are made for outdoor installation and will trace the passage of time, but via oxidation and rain rather than sunlight. Each piece in the diptych is composed of two parts, one granite and bronze the other granite and aluminum, one with the bronze cube on top, the other with an aluminum cube. The bronze will change over time to a blue-green color as it’s oxidized by the elements and the color will run down the granite staining it, while the reciprocal piece will age and weather, but not oxidize so clearly. The clean granite and aluminum function as a constant that mark the persistence and unchanging presence of time, while the oxidizing bronze and stained granite will record the linear movement of time and the harsh degenerative qualities of nature and the environment.

Overall, I hope the show offers a sense of space and time through image and material. Each piece is not only a representation of a specific subject, but an image of the material itself and its interaction with time and nature. While the fabric pieces are transported to the gallery as completed representations of a specific location and its environment, the aluminum and granite sculptures are friendly propositions to the viewer to bear witness to their completion complementary to their own lifespan. The aesthetics of color and form are chosen to speak to the optimism of life and the comfort offered by natural elements such as the sun and rain, while symbiotically allowing the pervasiveness of our movement toward death to show through. Sam Falls, 2012.

Sam Falls (b. 1984, San Diego, CA) received his BA from Reed College in 2007 and MFA from ICP-Bard in 2010. Falls’ work has been exhibited in the US and abroad, including solo exhibitions at China Art Objects, LA, West Street Gallery, NY, Fotografiska, His work has been written about in Modern Painters, ARTFORUM, Frieze and Aperture. His most recent monographs include Val Verde, Karma, 2011, Paint Paper Palms, Dashwood Books, 2011, and Visible Library, Lay Flat, 2011. Falls lives and works in Los Angeles.
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