March 19, 2011 - White Flag Projects - Karthik Pandian’s Elements of Style
March 19, 2011

Karthik Pandian’s Elements of Style

Karthik Pandian, “Cahokia Byōbu (Broken Screen),” 2011 (Detail).*

Karthik Pandian
Elements of Style

March 12–April 23, 2011

White Flag Projects
4568 Manchester Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63110

www.whiteflagprojects.org

What happens when history finds its gaze in the mirror? How does it regard itself? Its figure? Its look? Like the exhalation of a stale gas, this reflection bespeaks a spiritual emptiness that pervades Elements of Style. The third and final installment of a trilogy of exhibitions that draws on the artist’s two-year investigation into the celestial, archaeological and architectural milieu of the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, Illinois, Elements of Style presents an ensemble of new sculptural, sound, light and wall works that brings this body of work home to the locale Pandian’s research began.

Using the rammed earth technique and repurposed mirror pane glass from his 2010 exhibition Before the Sun at Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis, Pandian has created a new large-scale sculpture that bisects the gallery diagonally into two triangular halves. Inspired by the persistence of the Japanese folding screen as an icon of chic, generalized spirituality, the sculpture, entitled Cahokia Byōbu (Broken Screen), embraces the functional and decorative possibilities of the form, while playing on the subject of landscape and pastiching the artist’s own fascination with ancient and modern entanglements.

The two wall works, or Shards, included in the exhibition are remnants from the formwork used to create the rammed earth pillars featured in the artist’s exhibition Unearth at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Exhibited here for the first time, the fragments bear the traces of the pillars’ varied earthen surfaces and are incised with the grid that has come to symbolize the archaeological-architectural horizon dividing the trilogy.

For the initial evening of the exhibition, Pandian created a work in the tradition of the nightly son et lumière shows that animate architectural monuments from French châteaux to the Pyramids of Giza. A program of shifting colored light inspired by the lighting design of the Cahokia Mounds Interpretive Center is set to an ambient soundtrack based on field recordings from the apex of Monk’s Mound during sunset. While the sound and light show represents a significant time-based feature of the project, Elements of Style is Pandian’s first exhibition to emphasize sculpture without a moving image component.

*Image above:
Mirror pane glass, rammed earth with cement, shells, mason’s line, 16mm film strips, glass shards.
Dimensions variable; As installed: rammed earth wall sections 24 x 96 x 6 inches each, mirror pane glass sections 24 x 96 x .25 inches each, 294 x 96 x 36 inches overall.

Karthik Pandian's Elements of Style
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