Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Luca Aontonucci and Cybele Lyle, Space Time and Architecture at Royal None Such Gallery, Oakland

Luca Antonucci and Cybele Lyle talk about their collaborative experience for their two-person show at Royal None Such Gallery in Oakland. The collaborations were not the type where singular pieces were created with four hands, but rather meetings and conversations happened with regard to the sharing of ideas and concepts. The discussion was moderated by Christina Linden, Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Oakland Museum of California.

In 1941, the scholar and critic Sigfried Giedion wrote Space, Time, and Architecture, a now-classic multidisciplinary analysis of architecture and city planning (originally written in 1970 and now with over 13 revisions). This book became the material for Luca Antonucci's work in the exhibition -- not what the text speaks of, but rather, the book is a material outside of itself as a work of text in space and time.

Antonucci has painstakingly crossed out text throughout the book's entire 690 pages with a fat black felt-tip pen. The gesture ultimately reveals and highlights phrases or images that the artist deems more important and relevant to the conversations at hand in his work. The decisions he made were arbitrary - not to be confused with random. Early on in the process, he devised a codex for crossing out, which was later abandoned for its trite nature, and was eventually replaced with conscious decisions that revealed themselves through the act of reading the book.

The act of revision is something that the human mind and people in general are often struggling or occupied with; so for Antonucci, it made sense to do the crossing out by hand, as opposed to using ruler or tape. The act of crossing out the text by hand was important because its nature of doing so is not a total erasure and still reveals the edges of the letters that are left behind in the wake of the gesture. Crossing out text, or selecting portions of text (common with Dadaists) seems to be a gesture that  contemporary art never tires of. It is a game that never seems to get boring - and a ritual that we are compelled to ceaselessly perform, because each iteration can be new and changes over time or with each new artist -- or editor.

In the show, there is a cyclical overlap between direct, literal motivation of editing text and the actual artworks that Antonucci created for the gallery space. Reprinting (in a sense, republishing) the book in a new photographic format re-contextualizes the book as fragmented edits - objects in a removed state from the space they originally inhabited.

Also in the gallery are glowing pieces by Cybele Lyle. In contrast to Antonucci's text images, Lyle's works are photo collage of landscape.They seem to be illustrating the new architectural text that Antonucci presented for us to read. Embedded within the images is an honor and respect for the landscape that does not impose upon it, but rather inhabits it. Each piece is an imaginary place that act as puzzles or fragments of Lyle's childhood interaction with nature. The compositions pull apart the landscape and put it back together as a way to remove power of the artist and to allow more agency for the viewer to move around them -- to inhabit them. The work can be entered because there is no specificity of place. Lyle views her process as one akin to editing a book.

Both artists engage a negotiation of space and time between the artist and the observer. They are each connecting the dots between the space made by each gesture, whether it be crossing out text or cropping and repositioning photos. The spaces allow a place to not only enter easily, but to sit comfortably in them and contemplate. Together the work is indistinguishable because the collaboration was so symbiotic. The artists assure us that this way of working is far better than being stuck in a singular way of doing things or making art.

The scale of all of the work is proportionate to a big, cozy coffee table book -- something one could hold comfortably without extending the arms too far wide to hold it in front of the face or in a lap. They are intimate, but substantial. In fact, the artists are making a new book, which will create further space to delve into the work - in our laps, comfortably in our private spaces.

  bookstore revisited: a curated bookstore of delightful and compelling things