Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Looking @ Kendall Nordin @ Container Space

Last month I drove out to the George Mason University campus in Fairfax, Virginia, to see Kendall Nordin's work at Container Space. This gallery is a converted shipping container outside the art building and is maintained by the art department. Its programming focuses on installation and site specific work.

When I arrived at Container Space in the middle of the afternoon, Nordin's work was quiet. The air was still and warm and bright outside, and the little shipping container turned gallery was like a dark cave; nothing was moving inside. I knew, though, that the artist had imagined periods of stillness and activity in her installation, so I decided to be patient.  I walked all the way into the container, taking my time, looking at the strings of tiny acetate flags that were draped across the ceiling and down the walls. I thought of Tibetan prayer flags or Mexican papel picado banners, as if each little bit of acetate might have its own meaning or message that was hidden to me. This hidden information was like a challenge to me the viewer. I realized I would have to be quiet myself, and more open to my senses, before I could really understand this work.

Eventually, I turned around to face the doorway and the bright light outside...and then I began to see little flickers around the edges of my field of vision, pulling my attention this way and that.  As I moved, the flags responded, waving, shaking, and catching the light. The work unfolded for me then, as I slowly circled the space, watching for it.

I really appreciate seeing work that asks me to be patient and wait for it.  i feel like i don't get many opportunities here to see work like that.

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