Remote Access

by Elizabeth Johnson


Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco has devised a novel way to stay open during the pandemic. Remote Access, a Special Online-Exclusive Media Room is making available to the public full-length videos by gallery and affiliated artists. The videos share a wide range of uneasiness combined with innovation concerning shared environments. Screenings change every Thursday and Sunday, and the works are on view for a week. There’s something to look forward to and showings to lament missing, just like in normal life. All the works are editioned and available for sale: enquire to Anton Stuebner at Catharine Clark Gallery.

Crude overlays transparencies of contemporary images of offshore drilling, oil tankers, small craft and surfers with 17th century British marine paintings; expressing continuity between pride and greed, as historic British Naval war on the ocean morphs into our current war over oil. Deborah Oropallo sourced and mixed images, Andy Rappaport wrote the soundtrack. Dominating the sea. Dominating oil markets. Oil spills, disasters and protests pile up with each overlapping shot. Temporary like weather and time, lower layers are visible for only a short while, illustrating the regularity with which we forget.

Nina Katchadourian, in The Recarcassing Ceremony, revisits an invented childhood story she shared with her younger brother, documenting the pretend family of Playmobil characters, their invented dialogue, and the reenactment of death and resurrection. Ceremony pivots on the moment when the sibling stopped collaborating. Starring the beautiful, rocky and dangerous Finnish seascape where they spent summers, and featuring interviews with their parents, this unsentimental video reveals play, play-acting, and story as influential to Katchadourian’s art.

Chris Doyle animates a self-conscious, transformative environment where mood ebb and flows, inseparable from composition. Organized as a cycle of construction, destruction, rebuilding, regrowth and upkeep, Swell celebrates human ingenuity, hard work, and tenacity in the face of inevitable, tsunami-like annihilation. Smooth framing and panning into and through snippets of digging, hammering, weather, water features, morphing boxes, filigreed pattern and cues of the artist’s presence mirror the Jeremy Turner’s score, as performed by Flux Quartet.

Whitney Lynn’s The Siren follows a pretty young woman, in an emerald mermaid suit, as she navigates an army bunker at Devil’s Slide promontory in Pacifica, California. Recalling Hitchcockian titillation that dangles beauty on a precipice, the video diverts the myth of the seductive siren into a portrait of an everyday gal searching for toeholds. She rests as she poses in the stunning landscape, gets a dirty bum, and brushes the sand out of her eyes. The vast, empty sea neither confirms nor denies that she’s waiting for sailors, but we wait with her.

LigoranoReese (Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese) documented Dawn of the Anthropocene amidst passersby, tourists and selfie-seekers interacting with ice letters spelling “The Future” during the People’s Climate March, September 21, 2014. Accompanied by Ernst Reijseger’s mournful cello music, the time-lapse video speeds and slows at regular intervals, lingers on some folks and ignores others. Evening approaches and night falls: the stoic, aloof, self-destructing letters melt against a touristy background, elevating the message of global warming by chronicling cornball, human frivolity.

Brigette Zieger interjects political slogans into a Romantic landscape drawing, draping banners from trees, and giving humorous voice to nature and left-wing causes. Bewilderment continuously pans left to right over a twelve-foot-long drawing, repeating the same sequence of dense forest, swamp, fallen log and forking stream, but the messages change: People Not Profit, Drop Seeds Not Bombs, Fuck the Troops, and Love Breathe Hope Create Occupy. Most effectively–Capitalism Isn’t Working–is printed backwards; thus, it is readable from the point of view of the landscape, being written for the landscape and not for us.

Schedule as follows (with surprise additions to be announced):

[About the author: Elizabeth Johnson is an artist and writer.]