about the exhibition
New Works 03.2
New York, NY
July 10–September 14, 2003about the artist
A traveler visits Cairo, takes pictures, and sends them home. The images arrive with no words—the photographs are presumed to tell the whole story. But does one moment captured on film convey the breadth of sights, sounds, and smells of a day spent at the pyramids? Years later will it remind the traveler of the particular glare of the Egyptian sun or the emotions felt in the face of such physical history?
Through various media Spencer Finch, a constant traveler and scholar of history, confronts the difficulties of “truly” representing a subjective experience. What does a photograph leave out? Can words on a page really do it? In many of his works the burden of memory often placed on photographs and language is transferred onto a less-considered and more interactive medium: light. A trip to the ancient site of Troy resulted in Eos (Dawn, Troy), (2002), an installation of fluorescent lights that fan out across the gallery ceiling to recreate the bluish tint of day breaking on the Trojan Plain. This piece, like others by Finch, questions normative notions of color, language, vision, memory, perception, and representation.
about the project
Spencer Finch’s projects at ArtPace have evolved out of his time in Texas. As in previous works, each relates to the physical and historical particulars of a geographic area or site—in this case San Antonio and its environs. Finch uses light, color, photography, and text to abstractly articulate his understanding of the Lone Star State.
For Paris/Texas Finch has tethered his present travels to those of his recent past—simultaneously drawing out connections and emphasizing the specific nature of his current location. Finch arrived in San Antonio after a visit to France, and brought with him measurements of the light that came through his Parisian hotel window in January. Using colored glass panels to filter the Texas glare, Finch recreates at ArtPace the quality of light on that day in France. The stained glass both temporarily grafts the history of French craft onto an American modernist building, and facilitates a dialectical relationship between the harsh beauty of both Texan summers and Parisian winters.
Buried Treasure brings another piece of the outside into the art gallery. Finch has fabricated a treasure hunt complete with gold coins and maps drawn in invisible ink. Framed maps to several sites in South Texas hang in the gallery, tempting the viewer by protecting their secrets until someone is bold enough to destroy the piece in order to find the gold (the ink only reveals itself when the paper is heated). Like many of his other works, Buried Treasure hints at Finch’s impressions of the place he is in.
Spencer Finch’s unlikely approximations suggest that there are multiple ways of representing the world and commemorating our experiences on it. His installations challenge the idea that objectivity exists.
other artist info