The show, comprised of works across diverse media, will be on view from January 12 through February 25, 2018.
Elevator to the Gallows is a show about pervasive despair—from personal mood to political landscape. The works on view encompass the darkness of winter, the increasing bleakness of current political realities, our blindness to the future, and feeling lost in the glum of fraying civic fabric and urban anonymity. Expressed in elegiac visual terms as a protean play of darkness and light, the exhibition presents a tightly focused set of works visually linked by the predominant use of black and white.
Kate Shepherd’s It Speaks of Its Own renders reflections on a ground of polished black enamel, with a spot of red that suggests that an illuminated exit sign present in the gallery. A pair of silver gelatin prints from David Wojnarowicz’s celebrated series Rimbaud in New York depicts the artist’s friend wearing a paper mask printed with the face of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, posing as a lonely figure in the city – on the subway, in a diner, or a forlorn loft. Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme include a partial installation of their unfolding project ‘And Yet My Mask is Powerful,’ whose title comes from Adrienne Rich’s poem in which a scuba diver descends through fading light, approaching epiphany on the verge of losing consciousness.
Lindsay Burke’s largescale airbrushed drawings depict grotesquely formed subjects, alternately suggesting the facelessness of strangers and the strangeness of the self. Cole Sayer’s black and white painting on canvas portrays a fuzzy pond scene reminiscent of television static, overlaid with distorted line drawings of caricatured faces, radically flattening the relationship between figure and ground. John Edmonds’ large format photograph renders a figure wearing a du-rag viewed from behind, offering an intensely politicized image described with a ghostly sense of movement and palpable tenderness.
The title gathering these works is borrowed from the 1958 Louis Malle film, a gloomy black and white film noir about a man whose life falls apart while he is stuck in an elevator. The soulful original score by Miles Davis is considered groundbreaking in its synthesizing of image and emotional atmosphere.