Be calm. Breathe deeply. Do not fret. Energy continues to flow through your body; blood traversing the highways of your major arteries before turning off into the side streets of arterioles and cul-de-sac capillaries –and all below the surface of your consciousness! If you are feeling unwell let us simply take a walk along your ley lines… cruise the meridians… discern and relieve the blockage to your chi.
‘Are you functioning harmoniously?’ asks Cooper Jacoby in his solo show Stagnants, running at Berlin’s Mathew Galerie from January 29 to March 19. In sympathy with the show’s content perhaps, the gallery is tucked away on Schaperstrasse in Berlin’s West End, beside a main thoroughfare moving traffic quickly across the city. Upon entering the space you immediately step upwards onto an augmented steel grate flooring, the height of which is just above comfortable stepping distance (certainly for short people like myself). Hence you are acutely aware of the importance of your position and begin to consider what else may lie beneath your feet.
The minimal, but striking, installation elevates a selection of elegant fiberglass sewer openings from the otherwise unnoticed periphery. The wall mounted sculptures ‘Spasm Vessel’, ‘Floating Cleft’, ‘Veering Passage’ and ‘Brain Hollow’ are cast from underground outlets in the Los Angeles sewage system and finished with graphite and epoxy resin. Predominantly black and dark charcoal in colour, the drains slowly trickle water (high gloss resin) into a stagnant pool in the gutter, entombing cut white vinyl maps of the main arteries embedded along the bowl. The maps are charming and reminiscent of circuit diagrams, suggesting a complex network underfoot, and add an important narrative element to the works.
At the back of the room Bianca Heuser, gallery director, explains that the piece ‘Assay (Clamped Stream)’ is made from shards of Fordite; a layered enamel paint by-product of the auto factory production line. Due to the now automated process, these hardened scraps are a finite resource. Clipped together with metal in the clear shape of an arm and chest, the Fordite chips mark out acupuncture points, mirroring the diagrams of the larger sculptures. The layered paint chips resemble rings of a felled tree, or markings in semi precious stones and are often cut and polished in the same way. We have always placed value (monetary, mythological, metaphysical) on such objects –a slice of agate, a quartz point –and as mankind modifies her environment, a new type of ‘resource’ is created inviting a new spiritual currency to be applied.
In this anthropomorphic projection onto a vital urban circulatory system, Jacoby appears to be on a mystical quest to find the inner, breathing spirit of LA. By applying methods of TCM to our deep (in the ground) exterior processes, is the artist asking us to consider our own internal equilibrium? **
Exhibition photos, top right.