by Jennifer Remenchik
The interior of Los Angeles-based sculptor Stephen Neidich’s solo exhibition Making the rounds (a place to wait) at Wilding Cran Gallery feels as much a synthesis of what happens outside the gallery walls as anything else; located in the heart of the urban utopia/dystopia that is downtown Los Angeles. The piece stands alone in the gallery. The surrounding track lighting points directly at it, attesting to the sculpture’s status as the sole crux of the exhibition. Metal chains hang from rotating camshafts hooked to the ceiling, which in turn clank methodically against collected rubble carefully arranged in a soft rectangle across the floor.
Void of color and vibrancy, the piece carries an unorthodox pairing of associations: the sounds it produces are meditative, perhaps even soothing, while the materials used to create them call to mind the harsh, mechanical nature of raw industry. The chains take on an anthropomorphic element to their performance in the variety of motions they produce: some strike the urbanite blocks with an almost punishing force while others seem to softly caress them by comparison, creating a personality for each block to which the viewer can ascribe their own attributes. The relentlessness of some chains against the stone produces an unexpected element: an accumulating layer of dust which covers parts of the surrounding gallery floor, speaking both to the geological phenomenon of erosion and the nature of time, a component of the sculpture also alluded to in its title.
The work arguably invites a deep desire to articulate the experience of boredom: a relationship to the mundane that teeters on the edge of profundity without necessarily achieving it. One finds “a place to wait” on the way to something, and from something, but not necessarily in something, or at least not something exciting, which, like boredom, brings anxiety. Seen this way, the dust takes on additional symbolic weight, alluding to the omnipresence of change, entropy and even mortality.
Rather than get lost in morbidity, however, Neidich provides just enough self-soothing mechanisms through the use of kinetic and auditory repetition to make the anxiety possible to bear, encouraging us to confront our boredom rather than escape it.
Stephen Neidich: Making the rounds (a place to wait), is on view at Wilding Cran Gallery through July 27th at 939 South Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles.
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