The Weight of a Scale
In a recent translation of the Pentateuch, it was discovered that Jacob’s ladder is actually a ramp. This news was not all bad. The ramp, helpful when moving a couch, is useful because it displaces weight; a ramp is a shape for adjusting a burden.
The forms of Beth Letain, however, are mostly square, to use the term loosely. Her lines wobble. Her gravity is evasive. Letain’s paintings rearrange the metaphysical schema and her ladders, shoddy at the rungs, are not made for climbing.
Despite having ramps, ascension in ancient Egypt was tough too, and it was governed by a ritual called the Weighing of the Heart. In this ceremony a soul was appraised and given an afterlife if the heart was found weightless when measured against a feather.
In Letain’s pictures there is no such standard. Her paintings don’t ease the soul by satisfying taste. Instead her forms wander on and off the scale as if they’re trying to see what you are trying to weigh. Her pictures are curious about your measurements, curious about what you’re looking at. Letain uses the form of Painting to misplace the burden of gaze. Her pictures shy away from physical metaphor, words get slippery. And if her paintings hold any gravity, it’s probably equal to the weight of your scale.
– Aaron Weldon