The transformatory power of McKeever’s exhibition is apparent when the space is seen without her installation, Antenna, during an earlier exhibition.
McKeever’s installation effortlessly seduces the useful rational construction to abandon its mathematical precision and to join in a play. It is a play determined to involve the whole scale of real and imagined, haptic and reflected. Its willing collaborator – light – joins in with a verve of youthful energy.
I am afraid, I cannot report what it felt like – I have not seen this exhibition. This essay thus is reminiscent of studying art history from photographs, mostly black and white then, when visiting art collections abroad was forbidden by the regime afraid of tiniest scraps of freedom. Our sight was trained to read the archaeology of art objects. All these decades later – I revive those skills to “read” this installation without seeing it in situ.
Coincidentally, the absence of seeing the installation is mirrored by Brian McAvera’s Components of the Scene written when “the installation …has not yet been constructed” ( the full text is on http://www.millenniumcourt.org)
It is of interest than he thinks first of McKever’s control of viewers moving around the installation, then he describes the plan – and I can vouch that indeed the charcoal drawings were installed in a smaller gallery.
And that there was a globe “mounted on an easel, but if you touch it you will get powder on your fingers. (p2 of McAvera’s handout). The globe is mounted onto a portable artist’s tripod easel and associates/ connects with an eyeball lens of surveillance and lens of a camera, and connectivity across space, like in Marconi’s invention.
The charcoal drawings echo the appearance of celestial view saturated with several types of transmission: there is a visible “corona”, a spiky bulb shape, and straight lined transmitters – tied to the main theme of the exhibition. In addition – those subdued whispered scribbles made by hand held point are marks of the artist’s presence, hesitation and exuberance alike. They do not present a shape or form – they are imprints of wondering mind.
At times McKeever gives up her obsession to match a received form to a trace on the paper. Free thought governs her hand wondering over the aluminium surface. It works as a diagonal composition whichever way you turn it.
The desire to understand -as Aristotle recognized in the first sentence of Metaphysics – is ubiquitous, while it is obvious that not everything in the world matches that desire. The elegant curve of the dibond strip denies clarity of meaning while cherishing the optical clarity in defining light, shadow and matter. The fakir left, the snake still dances.
The sinuous dibond curve receives its double made of light and shadows. Switch the light off – and the aluminium composite loses more than its ephemeral companion. Yet both are real. The differences define the stability of the form – and point to a hierarchy, the dibond spiral is stable in the dark and light as if in a continuous treaty with time for the duration of the installation. Its twin is not, moreover, it depends on energy from another source. The determination of what is seen by presence or absence of light is a necessary a condition for optical input. It is insufficient to the extent to which visual thought escapes the confines of the optics. Where does it escape to? Your memory, your imagination.
The poetic charge increases with application of coloured light in the large Antenna installation
Construction, reflection, and shadow are reminiscent of confident repeats and variation as in a JS Bach’s fugue. The sameness and difference have not abandonned the Apollonian clarity of constructions while joining the intoxicating Dionysian instinct for jouissance, joi-de-vivre.
I imagine that the uplifting pull of that corner in the gallery was never weakened, before the light switch ended it.
Different from James Turrell’s secret vows of more behind what is visible
or from Anish Kapoor’s perceptual uncertainty: Laura Cumming described her experience thus
Go closer and the glow turns out to be nothing but a huge yellow wall. Closer still and the wall becomes literally nothing: a hollow, a colossal dimple in which your eyes drown in the search for some definitive form. From visual richness to nil visibility, the transition is as smooth as the colour. (Anish Kapoor at Royal Academy, The Guardian Art Review, 27 September 2009)
McKeever’s art is holding its own. It allows the clarity of construct – like David Smith’s metal drawings in the air- yet dissolves in light and reflection by multiplying and connecting.
Even the floor joined in.
Images courtesy Simon Mills via the artist.