Sunsets at Everybody in Tucson is an exhibition of 16mm video, silver-gelatin prints, and sculptural fabrications that share approaches to composition.
December 9, 2022–January 28, 2023
Sunsets is a concise exhibition collaboratively organized by Alex Von Bergen, Maya Hawk, Christian Ramírez, and Andrew Shuta. The works included share an austere and technically complex approach to composition.
Amy Granat’s Chemical Scratch Ghostrider (2004-2022) occupies the largest wall in the gallery. A kinetic Rorschach, the 16mm black and white video projection flickers with scratches, flares, and burns embedded directly into the film’s emulsion. A result of physical manipulation and manufactured chemical reactions, Ghostrider makes explicit the material conditions of film. Similarly, in Black Abstraction #13 (2012) Granat reasserts film as an object in and of itself in a velvety black photogram imprinted with the substrate’s physical contours.
Other works in Sunsets invoke allusions to imagery in their titles that emphasize a slippage between material and symbolic interpretation. A small, gestural black and white silver gelatin print adhered directly onto the gallery wall by Granat, entitled One For The Road (2022), and Shane Rossi’s buoyant red painting enshrined in solid oak, Red Sunset (2022), take on the visual language of their referents—in this case, solitary landscapes.
This associative logic is also central to Driving West Lonesome Cowgirl (2009), a silent, single-channel video piece composed of black and white and color 16mm film by Granat and long-time collaborator Emily Sundblad (Sundblad/Granat). The video footage features two figures—Sundblad and Granat—in an archetypal Western landscape performing a series of prosaic activities: languidly napping outdoors, pantomiming at the wheel of an unmoving car, traipsing amongst saguaros and tires. Punctuated by conspicuous cuts and diffused surface details owing to the film transfer process, this casual montage dispenses with any logical or sequential appearance of time. Like One For The Road or Red Sunset, Driving West Lonesome Cowgirl employs conventional imagery to signal continuity amongst what is otherwise a collision of independent images. Absent a conclusive narrative, the structure and formal properties of the video take precedence.
One of the more compelling and confounding pieces in the exhibition is Rossi’s Untitled (Punching Bag) (2022). Constructed entirely of solid oak save for a gleaming silver knob installed at its furthest point, Punching Bag is the only truly non-pictorial artwork contained in Sunsets. The highly finessed wood apparatus is nearly indistinguishable from its referent; devoid of the accessory called forth by its name, Punching Bag displaces function for aesthetic rigor.
There is an urge to ascribe a tidy poeticism to Sunsets—to disambiguate and isolate the material language of each work from the breadth of imagery and symbols they denote. However, this pluralism is also the critical success of Sunsets; viewers are asked to consider these works not as they appear next to each other, but on top of their various associations.