Analyzing the Weight of Sound
The two-person exhibit in the small gallery space of the Hoffner Lodge titled All Sounds Concern Me is as much about sound as it is about weight. James Maurelle, a Philadelphia based artist, and Jodie Cavalier, a Oregon based artist, are both interdisciplinary artists that worked separately to make these bodies of works, which were eventually synthesized into being by the curators at Anytime Dept.
The gallery is small but active: Active in the ways the objects interact with the space and the viewer, and active in the ways that the space is used in the time between the opening receptions. The show also takes places in a very active area of Northside, curious pedestrians walk by the large gallery window and are able to see the whole room, as it is elevated slightly from the ground level. The room itself seems to be thematically toned – the yellow ochre and burnt umber of Maurelle’s woodwork and the soft blue nature of Cavalier’s imagery transcend into a fluid coolness that vibrates through the gallery. Cavalier’s blue images hang in the back left corner of the room and draw the viewer in with their organic forms and textures. The wall text that accompanies the pieces states that these images are sun prints, or cyanotypes, which are created by arranging objects on a specific type of paper, then exposing it to sunlight. The finished product is the negative space of the object; where it once sat, a white shape—an echo created by the impact of the sun.
In one such cyanotype by Cavalier, “Joshua Tree, Calif, 05,” it is less obvious what object she used to create the image. These pieces contain various ambiguous shapes protruding from a corner, taking over the composition.
The emphasis of negative space in these prints can also be seen in Maurelle’s sculpture, “Ringling”, which resembles the shape of a bowling pin. Its simple, cylindrical shape emphasizes its own negative shape, especially while sitting on a pedestal also made of wood.
Maurelle uses wood frequently in his artistic practice. In his piece “Crip Walk 1” the artist reassembles pieces of wood from what looks like could have been a crutch, a chair leg, and a pool stick. He transforms the fragments into a two dimensional object, eerily reminiscent of a gun, and hangs it like a trophy on the wall. Maurelle does something similar in “Mingus” by manipulating different fragments of wood to create a scythe-like object.
In the middle of the room, connecting the entire scene together is Cavalier’s “Untitled (tongues taught)” a piece consisting of a long pole descending from the ceiling at an angle that connects perpendicularly with another pole, at eye level. On one side of the pole is a sheet of paper with a poem on the corner, along with three metal charms dangling from the paper. On the other side of the pole is a piece of black obsidian. These two objects, on opposite sides of the pole, engage in a balancing act.
The obsidian, absurdly enough, hangs higher than the piece of paper of the other end, implying that the weight of the poem is more than that of the volcanic rock. While looking up to analyze the physics of this mobile, the viewer sees that there is a rope attached to the door of the gallery. It extends along the ceiling and the wall, and descends a few feet away. The end of the rope is tied around a rock, suspended above a circular cement form. It’s easy to imagine the ways these objects might interact if in motion: the door opening and closing, causing the rock to hit the cement form, and ever-so-slowly chipping away at its surface.
At the opening reception, there was a table set up with several pieces of wood, a saw, and wooden chairs. The artifact of the action remains on view for visitors to observe; considering it a reflection on the artist’s studio and his relationship with his workspace. At the opening Maurelle sawed the pieces of wood while streaming music. None of it seemed orchestrated, and the artist spent more time with certain pieces of wood than others; tossing fragments to the corner of the room, cutting out the seat of a chair, then its legs. This process was loud, and aggressive. The room echoed with the sound of the music, the saw against the wood, and wood hitting the floor. It became apparent just how much noise there is within all of his work—one that harmonizes with that of Cavalier’s.
Standing alone, it may be hard to connect these objects to the idea of “sound” as implied in the title of the show. Engaged together however—especially considering Maurelle’s performance during the opening reception—these pieces emphasize the noise that exists within suspension, weight, and softness.
All Sounds Concern Me, is one of the three two-person exhibits happening at the Hoffner Lodge through Anytime Dept. During an interview with the directors of the collaborative, Lydia Rosenberg and Rebecca Steele, they emphasized the importance of forming dialogue with artists outside of the Cincinnati art scene. To do so, this new, upcoming, artist-run space is one of very few programs that focus on what they call “local exposure”, or bringing in artists of varying media and repute from out-of-state.
In order to create these conversations, Anytime Dept. hosts events in the weeks between the opening receptions to fill what they consider the “dead space” of a gallery, or the time that the gallery isn’t being used. These events involve dinner parties with the artists, performances, readings, and live music.
Anytime Dept.’s current show, features artists Annie Zverina and Thomas J Gamble, and runs from September 1st to September 25th.
Written by Audrey Patterson