Friday, September 23, 2011

Burnt offerings

"Out of the Embers" at The Telephone Room

The Weekly Volcano, September 21, 2011

Allison Hyde's art speaks eloquently of time and place and memory, and sadly of deterioration and destruction over time. Her site-specific installation, Out of the Embers, in The Telephone Room consists of serigraphs with ash and charcoal on mylar, burned furniture, burned jewelry boxes and sound.

(There is no sign that says "Don't Touch," so I picked up one of the prints that sits loose on a shelf and got soot on my finger. So maybe you shouldn't touch.)

The room itself is bright, cheery and pristine; while the objects inside are dark, broken and coated with charcoal. The chair next to the telephone is a half chair, broken and burnt. The boxes on the shelves are charred. Some of the mylar prints are scattered on the shelves, and others are framed and hung on the walls.

There is recorded sound talking about the house, the objects in it and the people. Verbal lists of objects.

I paid little attention to the words, but let the sound wash over me, amplifying the mood of the room as I examined the prints. Perhaps the recording answered essential questions about the people who occupied the room, but I didn't want the mystery solved. I wanted to walk away wondering who these people were. Were they destroyed in the fire? Was it an accident or was it arson?

The installation is haunting. There are people in the pictures, dark and murky photos out of an old picture album, like negatives of photos taken in insufficient light. You can barely make out the few figures: a child, a man sitting in a chair, a standing women, a few chairs, in one sequence a bunch of what appears to be party balloons. Was there a birthday party for the child? And there is one precious sequence of a child unrolling toilet paper. (I use the term "sequence" because the prints are still images taken from video sequences.)

Hyde's work is described on The Telephone Room's blog as seeking to "explore ephemeral moments, and our notion of emotional loss associated with personal pasts ... she examines the subtleties of fleeting moments and the nostalgia related to recollections of memories."

The Telephone Room is promoted as the world's second-smallest art gallery at 12 ½ square feet. In order to best utilize this tiny space, Hyde framed the prints stacked tall in vertical frames. The arrangement of prints and objects reminds me of the precision and balance of an Ellsworth Kelly painting.

The Telephone Room is located in a private home in Tacoma. The address isn't listed publicly, presumably out of caution about making a private home address too public. Only an email address is listed. The Telephone Room is open by appointment only. The Allison Hyde installation is scheduled to be on display through Sept. 30, but may be extended through October.
Out of the Embers

Through Sept. 30, by appointment, The Telephone Room,

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