There is a point at which space collapses into stuff.
Space requires a freedom of motion. It is what we pass through, can climb over and around, have the ability to get underneath and to summit its peak. Space is landscape, it is architecture, it is terrain, and it is potential. It is what we want to touch, transit, explore, and live within.
And then there is all the rest.
The rest is important, because it forms the background. It is the collaged colors of the rest of the forest we will never walk through because there simply isn’t enough time. It is the skyline of buildings we will never recognize even as we stand in front of them. It is the rest of the internet, that we will never read but that allows for the existence of the part that we know and love. It is the raw wood and metal that was shaved off by machines in the process of sculpting our furniture and the objects we touch on a daily basis. But we will never know it the way we know those objects. It is the rest, the remainder, the colored backdrop, the fading horizon silhouetted in the distant sunset.
It is this stuff from which Intimate Horizons is made. The installation by Claire Ashley and Bahar Yurukoglu, the first exhibition put together by Rachel Adams, Disjecta Contemporary Art Center’s 2014-15 Curator-in-Residence program, is only the stuff. Comprised of giant inflated air bags along the walls of the gallery, decorated with paint and Plexiglas shards, and illuminated with projections, the installation is colorful, but it is an overwhelming lack of space. Pushed up against each wall, the bags cannot be walked around or entered, and as monstrous as they appear, they look weak, like foam or whipped merang, like the slightest touch would bring them deflating to the floor. The artist statement for the installation mentions Ashley’s reference of “organic architectural forms.” and Yurukoglu’s previous placement of Plexiglas into outdoor landscapes as “neoscapes.” But those descriptions speak of space, the earth, and human habitation—and that is not what is going on here.
There is a different universe entirely of these shapes—one of stuff. The conglomeration of color and texture, the range of materials, and the shifting shades of light from the projection appear as a kaleidoscope of raw material, removed from anywhere they might function as part of our world. The creations remind one of bins of cell phones awaiting disposal, massive heaps of cloth cast off from a garment district, or dumpsters full of shattered glass food containers. These are the necessary components to our society, the forgotten husks of our cultural fruits. Stuff is colorfully unglamorous, unavailable to us, and yet related to us. We are surrounded by it, and yet we do not see it. We exfoliate it like dead skin cells, and yet we cannot touch it like flesh.
It is a part of fashion, in a way. There is the fashion that you wear—cloth that feels a certain way to the touch, that covers your flesh and stretches against your movements, that enables you to feel warm or cold or wet or dry. And then there is fashion on other people. Those are the clothes you see, that you cannot touch. It is looking at the bright-colored and patterned masses, and knowing no matter the size of your wardrobe, those other clothes will never cover you. Clothes are for wearing, but also for looking at. And in the bright patterns of Intimate Horizons, we see a taste of what we cannot touch.