Tracing a Neon Mobius Strip

Puzzles can be engaging and maddening, but for satisfaction they require a payoff. An exhibition at the Taka Ishii Gallery of work by British artist Cerith Wyn Evans illustrates this fact both in the location of the gallery and the work contained therein.

poster for Cerith Wyn Evan

Cerith Wyn Evan "Futa Omote (Double Face)"

at Taka Ishii Gallery Tokyo
in the Roppongi, Nogizaka area
This event has ended - (2007-03-09 - 2007-04-07)

In Reviews by Lori Kornegay 2007-04-03

Finding the gallery feels like a speakeasy search – we circled the block three times, entered an alleyway between a warehouse and a cab company, followed the narrow corridor to an industrial elevator, and said the secret password. Ok, there’s no secret password, but you feel like there could be on your way to this collection of galleries in an industrial space just down the road from Kiyosumi-Shirakawa station. Viewing Evans’ small exhibition – only three pieces – entitled Futa Omote (“double face”), the experience is similar to the feeling you get searching for the gallery itself: this is a puzzle to be worked out and unfortunately some crucial information feels like it is missing.

Cerith Wyn Evans, 'Black Glitter Floor for and After Pauline Daley'

After stepping into the small gallery, entering between two potted bamboo plants (is this part of the installation?), the first piece you see is an untitled work featuring a black, bubbling, stone fountain resting on a mirrored pedestal. As you approach, a second installation makes its presence known via a crunching sound underfoot. This piece, entitled Black Glitter Floor for and After Pauline Daley, consists of exactly what it sounds like: black glitter spread over the gallery floor. Before consulting the checklist, I thought this might be part of the first piece, as the glitter looks like it has been shed from the fountain. The works do complement each other, setting up a mystifying conversation that echoes back and forth, but it is ultimately unsatisfying. The third and most successful piece is a discrete neon sculpture called Black Mobius Strip.

Other works on show, with 'Black Mobius Strip' on the right

This exhibition reads as a limited and consequently frustrating glimpse into the work of a fascinating artist. Evans’s interesting career includes past work with director Derek Jarman, as well as his own video, sculptural, and installation pieces that often include text and complex references to other art forms, such as literature and film. As noted in the materials provided by the gallery “[Evans’s] work deals with the phenomenology of time, language, and perception.” Black Mobius Strip is certainly a fantastic representation of his artistic focus, with its wonderfully precise form playing with the illusion of a single-sided object turning in on itself endlessly. The emotionally cool neon is also the perfect medium for this piece. Because of a subtle variation – the front of the neon tubing is black – the difficulty of tracing where the form begins, ends and inverts itself increases as you try to follow both the black line and the white line of light. The conceptual complexity is also multiplied as linear shadows set up a visual echo on the wall behind the piece. The elegance and purity of this enigmatic form was not quite matched in the other two pieces, leaving the show with an unbalanced and unresolved feeling – a stalled puzzle rather than one that continues to play with the mind.

Lori Kornegay

Lori Kornegay. Lori Kornegay came to Tokyo in spring 2006 to join her husband during his studies at Waseda University and internship with Hitachi Metals as part of an MBA program. She is on a year-long leave of absence from her position as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Arts Management Program at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC in the United States. She has a masters degree in art history and her research and experience focuses on contemporary visual arts. » See other writings

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