Nibbling the White Cube

Back in the summer, when I last caught up with him, photographer Frank Magalhaes was exploring variations on his black-and-white “I Am a Tree” image.  His multi-angled Plexiglas presentation was in an exhibit with the group MOVIS at Mason Gross Galleries. Now he is having a “Breakthrough” with MOVIS in the exhibit Nibbling the White Cube at the Anne Reid Gallery at Princeton Day School.

Visitors to the White Cube are invited to explore the definition and role of art in the work of MOVIS artists, who are dedicated to expanding concepts in the visual arts.

“Nibbling the White Cube”  features fabric, music, photography, sculpture, film projection and drawing with string and tape.

The “white cube”  is the gallery space itself, described by Brian O’Doherty as a space “constructed along laws as rigorous as those for building a medieval church. The outside world must not come in, so windows are usually sealed off. Walls are painted white. The ceiling becomes the source of light… The art is free ‘to take on its own life’…  untouched by time and its vicissitudes.”

Participating artists say they have created work “that cannot be tamed and relegated to predictable locations within the neat confines of the gallery…  Each artwork seems to be passing through the gallery on its way from and to a place marked by the contingencies of real space and time.”

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2 Responses to Nibbling the White Cube

  1. Dear Ilene,

    Thank you for praising this splendid group of artists! Frank and Rita are among my favorite people — ever inventing and re-inventing. He’s become the sound engineer for Rita’s music installations, so memorable at Suspension. As you may know, Tasha sent me the link to her exquisite Rain, which I’m hoping can be inserted into NJ WILD’s post involving weather for today. I can hardly wait to see where MOVIS moves next! Carolyn (Foote Edelmann)

  2. Eve Ingalls says:

    Dear Ilene,
    Thank you very much for mentioning the exhibition. I thought it would be of help to the viewing public to add this description of the exhibition.

    ‘Nibbling the White Cube’
    The Anne Reid ’72 Gallery
    The Princeton Day School
    .November 14-December 12, 2008

    The ‘ white cube’ that typifies the modern art gallery “is constructed along laws as rigorous as those for building a medieval church. The outside world must not come in, so windows are usually sealed off. Walls are painted white. The ceiling becomes the source of light….The art is free ‘to take on its own life’… untouched by time and its vicissitudes.” Brian O’Doherty, Inside the White Cube.

    Nine artists are challenging the power of the ‘white cube’ by creating work that cannot be tamed and relegated to predictable locations within the neat confines of the gallery. A dynamic energy is unleashed as the artworks pull, push, probe, and reshape the space. This energy opens and enlivens the viewer’s sense of the relationship of art to the world we inhabit.

    Each artwork seems to be passing through the gallery on its way from and to a place marked by the contingencies of real space and time. The first piece to catch the viewer’s eye is by Jerry Hirniak. Projecting the image of a tree onto the outside wall of the gallery, he provokes an active confrontation between nature and architecture. Berendina Buist uses the movement of images on fabric to evoke the flow of water through the interior of the gallery. Susan Hockaday blends two realities, juxtaposing pieces of photographs of the natural world with photograms of trash to create a mosaic that hovers in front of the gallery wall. Eve Ingalls’ sculpture suggests a flying fragment of nature that has been briefly snagged in foreign territory and will soon be on its way elsewhere. Continuing the nature metaphor, Marsha Levin-Rojer appropriates the gallery floor, rather than the traditional wall, as a backdrop for a mandala-like tape drawing of tangled vines in a forest. With the sounds of a theremin, rain stick, marimba, and steel drums, composer Rita Asch creates the auditory beat of rainfall within the gallery.

    Several artists deconstruct the white cube. Frank Magalhaes creates a visual hole in the ceiling through which the outside world is watching. Drawing with string in space, Margaret Kennard Johnson builds visual veils that stretch and transform the underlying architecture of the white cube. A subtle energy charges the resulting space, causing it to hover before the viewer’s eyes.
    John Goodyear turns the gallery thermostat into a readymade. The thermostat is replicated, a second non-functional version signed with the artist’s initials and dated. Lighted as a unified work in the gallery, the pair constitute a dialectic between non-art and art, non-artist and artist.

    The exhibition was curated by Movis, a Princeton artists’ group that meets weekly to consider new concepts in the visual arts. Members of the Movis group have exhibited widely throughout the United States and internationally, and their work is included in many museum collections.

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