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A Well-Lit Space
Vicki DaSilva
Reverb
Light Tartans: Fountain Park #4 by Vicki DaSilva. Source: ablefineartny.com
Vicki DaSilva, "Light Tartans: Fountain Park #4" 2007

Made famous by Gjon Mili in his portrait series of Picasso, painting with light is just the sort of thing somebody was bound to rediscover. It requires a dark space, an open shutter, and a pinpoint source of light which one waves around in whatever way one desires. Calling her version Light Grafitti paintings, Vicki DaSilva mainly uses the technique to write comments on chosen venues such as the Museum of Modern Art. Inescapably inviting comparisons with Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger, both of whom are famous for text-based art, DaSilva has added this long established photo technique to the conceptual mix.

For me, the trouble with conceptual art in general has always been not that it is merely clever, but that it is never clever enough. It is not as clever as the equation for the line, or the Pythagorean theorem, or e=mc2. And if, as idea, conceptual art frequently fails to impress, as image it doesn’t impress at all.

So, too, here. DaSilva’s ideas just do not rise above the obvious and sophomoric. She makes ‘political comments’ of the kind we have seen before and will doubtless see again, and though she does it with light painting, ‘Usurped’, or ‘Artburn’ is not quite enough to make her stand out as original.

Artburn by Vicki DaSilva. Source: vickidasilva.com
Vicki DaSilva, "Artburn" 2010

The other pole of her work involves using moving lights in a large industrial space and then photographing them with long time exposures. Vaguely reminiscent of work by such companies as Pilobolus and even of early Rauschenberg-Cage-Cunningham collaborations, not to mention innumerable psychedelic light shows, these installations have attractive affinities to abstract painting. More like theatrical photographs than works in themselves, the images of installations are shown on LCD screens, a choice which emphasizes their luminosity far more than paper prints would. Yet they still leave me outside, looking at the space when I would rather be inside the space itself.

From DaSilva’s background material one sees that she has worked with video and performance artist Joan Jonas, so she must clearly understand the possibilities for direct experience inherent in her work. Should she move more squarely into theater and dance, her light paintings could become active participants in a living, time-based experience of real impact. That might be something truly interesting.

Vicki DaSilva
Reverb
Curator: Jill Connor

Able Fine Art Gallery
511 W 25th St. 5th Fl
Chelsea         Map

212 675 3057
ablefineartny.com

Thursday, June 23 to
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Hours: Tues - Sat, 11 to 6
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The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
Central Booking Magazine
Soho Photo Gallery