Louise Noguchi & James Nizam
June 13th – July 20th
Birch Libralato Gallery is pleased to host the upcoming exhibition of new works by Louise Noguchi and James Nizam.
The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.The unnamable is the eternally real
In the exhibition The name that can be named is not the eternal Name. The unnamable is the eternally real, Louise Noguchi exhibits a series of photographs of sculptures from the Far Eastern Collections of the Royal Ontario Museum. In her artist statement for the exhibition Noguchi writes:
In the 1990s I was at the Royal Ontario Museum and saw a small rock with numbers painted on its side. The object along with several other items was placed in a display case in the Far Eastern section of the museum. When I circled the display case, I was surprised to see that on the other side of the rock’s surface was the sculpted head of a Buddha. I liked the idea of how ordinary matter could have associations with the divine. Interested in the idea of a rock having more weighty significance, I contacted the ROM to take photographs of their collection of Buddha heads. I was interested in taking the photographs largely from the perspective of their broken sides.
From the museum, I learned that many years ago these religious artifacts were purchased through a broker who obtained the heads from vandals and thieves that broke or sawed off the heads from their bodies. Some of these artifacts were installed or carved into rock walls at various religious sites, including the Buddhist cave temples of T’ien Lung Shan in Shansi Province, China. Embarrassed by their past acquisition policies (which have now changed), the ROM felt it was important to strike up a contract before I would receive permission to photograph the objects. It is important to note that my request to photograph the heads came several years after the ROM’s controversial exhibition "Into the Heart of Africa", which was the probable cause of some of the museum’s concerns.
Since photographing the heads, I have never exhibited the work. I was unable to resolve some of the many issues that this work suggests, including the sad history of the artifacts and destruction of the Buddhist temples, the dispersal of the bodies and heads to museums and collections around the world, and lastly, their transformation from sacred object to museum object to my depictions of them through the use of photography. The religious artifacts now seem so far removed from my initial error in thinking of them as rock and ordinary matter. However, I have since decided to exhibit this work and to leave it up to the viewer to wrestle with their significance.
Note: The title of the exhibition and series: "The name that can be named is not the eternal Name. "The unnamable is the eternally real" comes from chapter 1 of the Tao Teh Ching. Additionally, this exhibition represents a portion of the 18 images in this series.
Curious Perspectives, James Nizam’s third solo exhibition at Birch Libralato, opens with a title aptly borrowed from French mathematician Jean François Niceron’s 1638 treatise on the practical applications of perspective. As in La Perspective Curieuse, Nizam’s work demonstrates an affinity for natural magic: an alchemy of position and perspective, light and shadow, and of temporality, sequence, and technique. Just as Niceron held that optics are as much concerned with illusion as they are with the distinct properties of light, Nizam’s work occupies a complex physical and temporal space where perspective is both, a precise science and a natural magic. It is exactly here, in Nizam’s own view, that the unique position of the lens in time and space may capture our curiosity. "Curious", then, does not regard the optical trick but, instead, evokes imaginary perspectives; immaterial and material coalesce in a series of photographic works – each carrying a quality of the impossible.
In Nizam’s Cube (Deconstruction), we are introduced to the constituent parts of a cube in isometric projection-captured, in stages, at the intimate scale of process. Sequential photographs show the step-by-step exposures that produce Nizam’s Thought Form series. An array of mirrors carries sunlight, in steps, through an artificial haze; after three or four steps, the beam becomes faint and requires the mirrors’ repositioning in advance of a subsequent exposure. Here, Nizam asks the viewer to work in reverse, alluding to the complexity of his process: a study of the light’s trajectory, calculation of the angle of incidence, and the complex plotting of the graphed forms to be drawn in light. The total sum of these steps becomes evident in Thought Form (Fan). The figure, in isometric projection, fans between states: the two-dimensional or flattened network of lines or the extruded triangle cascading in three dimensions.
Skylight borrows the so named architectural element, in situ, against the backdrop of the built context’s skeleton. The hexagonal window-itself, an anamorphic form-is flattened by the camera from a single point of origin to become a cube in isometric projection. Pyramid captures the lit form in site-specific context, as a pyramid of light activates the architecture of the galleria at Toronto’s Brookfield Place. This form-the shape of the visual plane-speaks, moreover, to the mechanics of the camera as it ushers light and geometry through perspective to inform our construction of space.
In Shard of Light, the camera’s position determines the location of a cut-literally, a notched out segment of a soon-to-be demolished house-allowing a sliver of daylight to penetrate the exterior. The ray filters in, at an exact time, drawing a line of light in the camera’s view. In a departure from the usual interior context of his work, Nizam took the fragment (salvaged from the aforementioned cut-away) on a pilgrimage to the Death Valley desert. Sun Dial captures, in digital composite, the sun’s path and ensuing hourly intervals of shadow-inverting the shard of light to shadow. These works demonstrate an immaterial materiality composed of the complex relationship of site context, lens position, and light as it changes with the passing of time (or with each exposure.)
Two works present a collage from architectural elements: interior, exterior, and corner. Where the interior bounds meet at the corner’s edge, cuts through to the exterior create a form suspended in play. In Four Circles, ellipses perforate the right-angled walls-cut to appear as perfect circles in the camera’s view. Outside the lens’ view, the circles are, again, elliptical. The process of the space itself becomes the object of perception, a Gestalt impression of built space, negative space, and the context beyond. Two Triangles, using the same technique, balances triangular figures against the exposed interior surface.
In a sense, each of these works holds contemplative space: a kind of material non-duality-a conversation between the material and immaterial. Through the praxis of Nizam’s lens, and careful consideration of temporal and physical position, these impossible figures may appear. Where the passage of time or a change of orientation would cause the image to dissolve, Nizam’s lens, with acute positionality in time and space, is the technology through which the final percept-the Curious Perspective-is possible, holding together an impossible balance of space, time, light, and form.
For more information, please contact the gallery directly.