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Hamptons Life

May 5, 2009 6:35 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

There's no place like 'Home'

May 5, 2009 6:35 PM

Although titled “Home,” the current exhibition at Art Sites in Riverhead is meant to be less an investigation of personal spaces than a broader view of humanistic experiences that are embodied in both broad and specific references.

Featuring works by Darlene Charneco and Ted Victoria, as well as a collaborative installation of tent-like structures outside by Sheila Ross and Laura Ten Eych, the exhibit 
transcends nostalgia and mostly eschews any specific references to institutions of home life such as family. Nevertheless, in the manner each artist interprets the concept of “home” itself, whether through either a micro or macro lens, an air of comfort and familiarity is established that allows the dialogue between the viewers and the works to focus on a subjective response to imagery, absent dogma or overt emotionalism in the interpretation of memories and personal experience.

Ted Victoria’s constructions and paintings, each using everyday imagery that seems to take on airs of profundity regardless of its relatively pedestrian nature, focus on tight little universes in which these objects are both real and fleetingly hallucinatory.

This is particularly apparent in his constructions which use a camera obscura to elicit movement from images that are deceptively simple, yet become wholly mysterious in the manner that they powerfully contrast both darkness and illumination. This allows the object to be viewed in a universe that seems to have no defined space or atmosphere, allowing the images to materialize and recede from deep within a baffling gloom, appearing as solid and impenetrable forms before dissolving in the onrush of a perpetual night.

This is particularly notable in works such as “The Magic Chair” and “Watching TV on LSD,” while in other works, like “Cutter Lives Here” and the playfully irreverent “House Bulbs,” the themes take on more immediate sociological relevance, bringing into play references to emotional disconnect in the former and the impact of sexual roles in society at large in the latter.

In Mr. Victoria’s paintings, on the other hand, the air of mystery is conjured not by what is obvious but by what is absent. This is apparent in works such as “Stove” and “Breakfast Table,” in which the viewed scenes of domesticity are absent any immediate human components, and yet their presence is nonetheless divined, as if the people were standing just outside the picture plane.

In Darlene Charneco’s new works, on the other hand, the artist’s focus seems to derive from a broader view of existential realities. In essence, if Mr. Victoria’s works are the essence of a micro approach in bringing the viewer as close as possible to a given image, then Ms. Charneco is pure macro, in which her tableaus are like a cartographer’s musings, as if viewed through either a powerful telescope or a powerful microscope. In either case, one gets the sense of viewing universes that veer between being simultaneously inaccessible and remote as well as being comfortably nearby and strangely familiar.

The telescopic approach is evidenced in works like “We Are/Were/Will be Here (Sag Harbor)” and “We Are/Were/Will be Here (Southampton),” both of which are reminiscent of a painterly interpretation of a GoogleEarth image. In a similar vein is “Islands of Common Interest,” which establishes certain abstract impulses in its use of wire and colors, but which also calls to mind aerial views of Christo’s “Wrapped Island Project” from the 1980s.

While many of the works seem drawn from a slightly twisted urban planning manual, “Bloom Colony (Hydra),” by contrast, seems more an image from a biological textbook. Using rhythmic bands that weave throughout the composition, Ms. Charneco creates a vibrant sense of movement while a circular motif in the center serves to stabilize the composition without sacrificing the work’s innate sensation of vibrant animation.

Meanwhile, outside is the collaborative installation “YC3” (which is an acronym representing “Yurt City 3”), consisting of a number of tents 
and tent-like structures that were initially created as a response to the seemingly perpetual housing crisis in New York and other cities across the country.

Appearing to the viewer as a cross between a campground and a shantytown, the pieces are, by turns, cuttingly political and entertainingly whimsical, their architectonic priorities often sacrificed for the sake of aesthetics or artistic capriciousness.

The exhibition “Home” featuring works by Ted Victoria and Darlene Charneco continues at Art Sites through June 7, while the “YC3” installation remains on view through October 18.

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