ERICA BAUM, MARCELLINE DELBECQ, TOM HOLMES, and DANIEL LEFCOURT
Useful Gestures/Useless Gestures brings together the work of four artists working with the conventions of language and semiotics to reinforce the ambiguity of those systems. The artists use organizational systems such as grammar and photographic documentation to point indirectly to their subjects. By subverting clear interpretations, they suggest a critique of our culture’s emphasis on simple, un-nuanced communication — a frustration of meaning binds these artists together.
Daniel Lefcourt’s arrangement of blocks of black lines mimics the graphic convention of page layout design, and stands in as an introductory text for the exhibition. An ambiguous decoy, Lefcourt’s wall installations underline the possibility of depicting language without using language. The visible information acts as an evasive declaration, or non-statement, which in itself is an indictment of language and our reliance on it. With Erica Baum’s photographs, language is laid bare, but despite appearances, her photographs of words form incomplete pictures of their subjects. An obscured subject is always hinted at with evocative combinations of words, which become concrete poems and playful allegories for hidden referents. Tom Holmes borrows, splices and propagates his images so that the his work evades even so much as a question of what his referent might be. Frenzied and multivalent compositions combine text and image, flattening multiple fields into works that ask the viewer to consider urban advertising in the same breath as high abstraction. In Marcelline Delbecq’s video, Close, two stories unfold one visual one verbal. The viewer is left to visualize unseen sites, to imagine the meaning of unexplained anecdotes. As the descriptions flow seductively in the form of the voice-over, the lush landscape extending before our eyes does not match the commentary. Following the frenetic paths of this garden as a course of desire, word and image disconnect again: the subject is evaded once more. Delbecq’s elusive maison is described, but never appears on camera.