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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Naomi Campbell's Silent Harvest

Naomi Campbell the artist -- not the rambunctious supermodel -- had a show at White Box on Wednesday. When I spoke with her, briefly, she told me that her new works are nods to the Futurists --a current obsession -- and their preoccupation with Speed.

The paintings are mounted at eye length behind glass and the subjects are Speed -- "That all subjects previously used must be swept aside in order to express our whirling life of steel, of pride, of fever and of speed" -- and the effects of Speed on a shifting industrial landscape.

The viewer, gifted with locomotion, is the moving object. But the series is just as concerned about the Space covered in the length of Time of the moving object (the viewer). The ingenious effect of the series is that of looking out of a car window and observing that whirling life of steel, of pride, of fever and of speed as it morphs in the mind's eye to a single contiguous whole. In fact, the entire gallery is, in fact, presented in such a way that as one walks through the exhibition, one is seeing the stark industrial landscape change just as the artists wants the viewer to see it.

Naomi Campbell is, like the Futurists she valorizes, greatly interested/concerned with technology. The paintings take place mostly at night or in the evening, in a sort of virtual anonymous Everycity (Montreal? New York? the Jersey Turnpike?). The technology of lights -- from other cars, from houses, from traffic signals -- blends together when viewed through the prism of a moving object in such a way that creates, all at once, a haunting tableau of Anycity and Everycity, when viewed in lonely transit.

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