“Is this it?” is something you may hear bandied about in any number of circumstances. It belies the frustration, dismay and disillusionment of its speaker, who longs for more, but ultimately dissatisfied. It is also the title of the first large, mirrored, piece made by Alexandra P. Spaulding within “The Myth of Perfection”, on view now at BT&C Gallery. Spaulding produced the selfie-ready piece immediately out of school, when confronted by both the rigors of life and maintaining a studio practice. The reflection produced by the piece appears to be level, but upon closer inspection, the viewer’s own reflection begins to undulate and falter against the mirrored surface, which bears its titular question. The conceits of surface perfection, mirroring, affecting the body and visible failure become underpinning themes of this two-artist exhibit that features highly conceptual work produced across untraditional media.
The exhibition shares its title with Spaulding’s commanding 6-foot neon and mirror text-based sculpture, which sits nearby “is this it”. Her recent text pieces are executed with white neon, which is then painted black and mounted upon a mirror, the result being that the text is made both legible and illegible by its reflection. The viewer is also imbricated within its mirrored surface, but each reflection cannot be made legible due to the cacophonous beauty of the text. Spaulding’s work is a rebuttal toward the twenty-first century audience, whose desire to see themselves reflected and document in turn are eschewed, and the male-dominated history of Minimal sculpture that precedes her own work.
Bodily legibility becomes a central concern to the work of Amanda Wachob, the second artist within “The Myth of Perfection”. Wachob deploys tattoos throughout the exhibit, in flags, photographs, and video to signify the ever-shifting, and mutable nature of bodily existence. “Bleeding Jesus” becomes the dominant signifier in the work presented by Wachob. The image, freshly tattooed on a friend by Wachob, slowly ekes out weepy, watery blood, immediately calling forth Renaissance depictions of stigmata and the preserved bodies of saints and martyrs who weep for all of eternity. What becomes interesting about this vein of exploration within the exhibit are the varied ways Wachob attempts, succeeds and fails to transmit the image of Jesus. Alongside the video and fully-realized photograph of the aforementioned tattoo are process images that sprang from the artistic process, among them glitch printing, distorted printing and the presentation of an index-cum-image, all of which actively undermine both the myth of perfection surrounding artists and creative output, but also looking to sever the myth of perfection as it has been historically tied to religion, and the image of Christ specifically.
“The Myth of Perfection” is on view now at BT&C Gallery through April 1, 2017. BT&C Gallery is located at 1250 Niagara Street, Buffalo, NY and is open Fridays from 12-7pm, Saturdays (during exhibitions) from 12-4pm, or otherwise by appointment with Anna Kaplan, Gallery Director.