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Clare Gasson, A Little Light Music

Parker's Box
193 Grand Street, 718-388-2882
June 23 - July 17, 2006
Reception: Friday, June 23, 6 - 9 PM
Web Site

Part of the Sound Exchange Project with The Showroom, London.

Clare Gasson does not consider herself a “sound artist” - not only because her work may include sculptural installations and video, but because in her case sound is a vehicle rather than a medium as such. Its role is to allow descriptions, contexts and atmospheres of a literary, theatrical and/or filmic nature to take root in the imagination of the spectator. And “spectator” is certainly the correct term, confirming Gasson’s status as a “visual” artist, as her intention is unquestionably that “spectators” should view the work - even if what they seemay be inside their own heads.

The main installation work in the exhibition, which also gives the show its title, functions in the dark, via a series of speakers. A Little Light Music is a theatrical, narrative piece, which draws the spectator from setting to setting in quick succession. Clare Gasson’s source material often includes existing places in tandem with the strong inspiration she draws from film and theater. In this case, particular influence came from the horror comedy, The Cat and the Canary, in different versions, from John Willard’s original stage play (1921), to the silent movie (1927) and the film (1939). Gasson’s stated references to painting play a strong role here too, particularly works by artists who draw the spectator into ambiguous spatial settings, like the menacing semi-fictional architecture of Piranesi, or Dorothea Tanning’s painting A Little Night Music.

Another work, Relay, includes a video element shown on a monitor, and a soundtrack on headphones. Despite appearances the video here is not the main visual element of the piece, as once again, the sound and text are there to conjure up images and narrative in the spectator’s imagination. The video is an accompanying stimulus adding further layers of information and atmosphere on a par with sound effects, stage directions, intonation, etc.

Clare Gasson is especially attracted by the versatility, fluidity and endless visual potential of text and language and it permeates her practice as her foremost medium. A printed text version of an earlier work, The Pitch,discreetly awaits spectators as they leave the gallery. The visual qualities of the printed words lying on the paper, invite the reader/spectator, once outside the gallery, to enter another setting/situation/atmosphere with a little help from their own imagination. With a receptive and willing audience, the real existence of these works of art takes place in the spectator’s mind, indeed the spectator becomes not only an integral part of the realization of the works, but also a part of the works themselves.
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