Curator: Meghan Grubb
July 26—September 7, 2013
Grubb spent much of December and January of this past year in Tromso, Norway, where the sun does not rise above the horizon for the six to seven weeks of the winter. While in Tromso she went to see the Northern Lights; her experience of this phenomenon was the seed from which the Aurora project grew.
Artspace’s Gallery 5 has been transformed to hold a dynamic—yet still—installation of light and color. Grubb has manipulated lengths of electroluminescent wire and suspended them in the space, allowing the viewer’s encounter with the work to provoke a state of heightened physical awareness.
The shapes that the wires describe suggest movement while remaining stationary. Grubb likens the effect to that made by a long-exposure photograph of a moving point of light. She concedes that her relationship to time is a paradoxical one; much of her work relies on the experience of research conducted daily over time, but her installations are often attempts to reveal a frozen a moment. She is also interested in the degree to which the feelings of awe, wonder, and unease can make us alive to our senses and awake to a very ‘present tense’ experience.
Meghan’s work is site-specific—she responds to place and the majority of her projects have been conceived of and realized in nature, as well as in the crumbling hollows of disused buildings. As visitors to her work, we are more readily disoriented in this kind of architecture (especially in darkness). The white cube gallery space gives Grubb a different set of parameters; she has described her installation at Artspace as “an artist’s sketch” made after an experience. It is by no means a literal representation of the Northern Lights but is a necessarily crude and subjective evidence of her attempt to approach and to understand nature.
The impulse to analyze and to record the sublime in nature is a very human response to the unknowable. Grubb remains faithful to the exercise of tracking and measuring the effects of natural phenomena, both despite and because of the impossibility of the task. The endeavour becomes devotional and the resulting artwork poetic.