Zooming in and out, resizing, translating and unfolding: this is only a short list of formal systems and associations which Saskia Noor van Imhoff (b.1982, Mission, CA) applies to existing artworks and artifacts. Allocating them a new place in her installations composed of sculptures, found objects and photographs, which are gathered online and culled from archives documenting previous exhibitions. The resulting individual works, assemblages and environments subsequently form new ‘constellations’ or self-referencing systems.
Central to Van Imhoff’s artistic practice are the elements one usually associates with ‘hidden’ and obfuscated practices of categorization and classification. What happens to the meaning or reading of an object through constantly changing situations? How do these different contexts relate to one other? Van Imhoff breaks with the existing or anticipated hierarchy, setting apart individual elements and providing them with renewed value and meaning.
For Van Imhoff’s first solo exhibition in New York, the floor is covered from wall to wall in salt. Clusters of plaster sculptures, objects and neon lines seem to be scattered around the salt surface, in order to slow down their inevitable process of decay. The neon lines are sketched in the space as liquid light frozen in time, melted over and through the different artifacts. Like constellations hardened under sheets of ice they seem to be indefinitely contained in their current state. However, salt is a material impervious to one single meaning in that it both conserves and degenerates. While it is used to preserve, it also erodes landscapes and can eat its way through seemingly impenetrable plates of steel.
The installation #+40.00 dissolves the preconceived boundaries of an exhibition; the viewer and the gallery environment form an integral part of this work. The staircase is illuminated by radiating magenta bars of light- normally used to artificially accelerate the growth process of crops and plants, the lights inscribe an afterimage onto the viewer’s gaze. After descending the stairs and stepping into the salt-filled space, an internal green filter colorizes the viewer’s sight.
Within the gallery space, a transparent Donald Judd Corner Bench replica, that is redefined as both a sculpture and a vitrine, revisits the semiosis of abstract and functional forms. The demarcation between artistic and functional is further blurred by the entanglement of the different humidification processes active in the space, endlessly balancing each other out.
The negative spaces created by the plaster objects bear a faint resemblance to human heads, limbs and bodies. The fragments recall both fossilized organic material and the eroded images of classical sculpture. Their worn shapes and curves are delineated by the neon lines in the space, offering a point of departure for new readings. Van Imhoff’s installations negate any fixed perspective, they present ambiguous associations and inspire seemingly contradictory understandings.