Ann Lislegaard: Henry Art Gallery

By Bedford, Christopher | Artforum International, October 2009 | Go to article overview

Ann Lislegaard: Henry Art Gallery


Bedford, Christopher, Artforum International


Science fiction as a literary and filmic genre is distinguished in large part by its exponents' appetite for extreme conjecture, and by the need for writers and directors working in this domain to elaborate those conjectures into fantastical worlds that answer not to natural law or existent social structures, but to decrees set forth and imposed by the creator. In this sense, science fiction also supports a model of overstated authorship that presumes facets of a narrative cannot be borrowed from the observed world, but must instead emanate from the author's mind.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Though each of the works in Ann Lislegaard's exhibition "2062" originates in a particular work of science fiction, this does not mean that she is out to channel the individual visions of the authors: the creative delirium of J. G. Ballard, say, or the epic sweep of Samuel R. Delany and Ursula K. Le Guin (to refer to the artist's three primary references here); quite the contrary, in fact. More an analytical tool than platform for rehashing authorial megalomania, science fiction provides Lislegaard with the language and license she needs to marry the frequently disparate concerns of modernism, Surrealism, and Conceptualism.

A case in point is the artist's two-channel digital animation declarative titled Crystal World (After JG Ballard), 2006, the clinical tenor of which could hardly be described as Ballardian. Prominent in this work is a domestic structure in a dense woodland setting. Rendered using 3-D modeling software, the house's design is based on icons of Brazilian modernism: Lina Bo Bardi's Casa de Vidrio (House of Glass, 1957-68) and two of her designs for chairs, as well as the 1957 Pavilhao Ciccillo Matarazzo (Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion) by Oscar Niemeyer. Lislegaard's polished animation tours the house as its clean contours dissolve organically into a field of abstract refractions. Such transformation roughly echoes Ballard's novel, whose narrative describes a West African jungle's metamorphosis into a crystalline labyrinth. But while Ballard's surrealist dystopia offers an account of the natural world consumed by an unexplained event, Lislegaard's video eschews narrative, and seems, rather, to illustrate artistic conceptualization in reverse: The jagged forms that emerge as the house melts away evoke architectural concept drawings.

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