Monday, November 2, 2015

In a Rhythmic Fashion- Carla Arocha and Stéphane Schraenen

Images: Carla Arocha and Stéphane Schraenen, P11, 2015, Plexiglas and stainless steel, Courtesy of Hap Gallery, photography by Mario Gallucci.

Upon stepping into Hap Gallery, the viewer’s perception is immediately distorted by a reflective curtain of Plexiglas that indistinguishably blurs physical space from reflections. After allowing a moment for one’s eyes to adjust, the viewer can observe the optical reflective installation, P11, by artist duo Carla Arocha and Stéphane Schraenen.

“In a Rhythmic Fashion” is the artists’ first solo exhibition at Hap Gallery in Portland, OR. The exhibition features the eleventh evolution of their P-series installation. The reflective Plexiglas curtain diagonally bisects the gallery space. Paintings hang on the gallery walls to create a fragmentary pastiche of wall, light, viewer, color, and reflection.

The installation itself is activated by the viewer’s presence. One becomes the creator by building a new visual experience with each step and turn of the head. The immersive installation distorts positive and negative space and reflects the environment as well as its viewer. Colors mix from the paintings along the walls, but even more interesting are the reflections cast from the street environment visible through the gallery windows.

I was also deeply interested in the mystery of a disposable camera placed on a pedestal and tucked behind a corner of the gallery. Upon closer investigation, I was informed that the camera, Hap edition 20, In a Rhythmic Fashion 1-24, was a series of cameras. Each of the 24 cameras has one image taken on the roll of film. Arocha and Schraenen took photographs of architecture and the city of Portland with the disposable cameras. The image each camera holds remains unknown until the camera is purchased and developed. Once again the viewer or owner (in this case) holds the potential to activate the piece through their choice to develop the image or leave the camera intact. The disposable camera also has a whimsical and nostalgic quality, being a product that has been rendered obsolete during a time of the standard issue camera/smart phone. Each camera is accessibly priced for the introductory art collector. The artists also ask that a copy of the image be sent to them for their archive.

The exhibition will only be up for another few weeks so make sure to see it quickly. I highly recommend that you experience one of the most captivating installations I’ve seen in Portland so far.

Hap Gallery
"In a Rhythmic Fashion"
October 8-November 14
916 NW Flanders Street, Portland, Oregon
Tuesday-Saturday, 11-6pm