By Bill Clarke
Katzman Kamen Gallery
To February 11, 2012
Comprised of seemingly disparate parts, Kruger’s first solo commercial gallery exhibition in a few years – he’s been busy with larger-scale installation projects here and abroad – seems to pick up on the idea of “oblivion” that he examined in a project at Art Metropole in 2008. That exhibition featured a large aquarium filled with a clear liquid juxtaposed with a similarly sized, but empty, glass display case. According to the artist, the works simulated “featureless, primordial space”.
No explanatory materials are available to guide viewers through the current exhibition. Unless freakishly clever, visitors will have to ask whoever is sitting the gallery for guidance. Most of the works in the exhibition, cryptically titled In Fact – Some Pictures, consist of images of the Earth and its cosmic environs captured using telescopic radar. Two renditions of the sun are projected on screens in the centre of the room – one uses a process that filters away the glare to provide a view of the orb’s fiery surface; the other breaks down the spectrum of the sun’s rays into vertical bans of colour. ‘Orbiting’ these two hypnotic videos along one wall is a set of folded, layered and framed world maps. The black continents float against bright seas of red, green or blue, drawing attention to the major rivers, tributaries and streams penetrating into the land masses. Opposite these are two wall-mounted works, their circular, arcing shapes replicating radio-telescope delayed-Doppler images of a large asteroid that was thought to be on a collision course with Earth in 2010.
Tying these cosmic elements together is a text printed on large paper bags that look like they contain soil. The text paraphrases God’s words to Noah about His plans to flood the Earth. (This text is also printed on the maps in a linguistic form made up by the artist; it looks runic, but is actually based on the shapes of Sol Lewitt’s incomplete open cubes.) Now, things take an apocalyptic turn. There doesn’t need to be a God in the sky to wipe humanity out. An exploding sun, an errant asteroid or the mismanagement of natural resources will do just as good a job at turning Earth into a featureless, primordial space like the one embodied in the final, haunting image in the show – snowflakes falling from a night sky that also look like distant galaxies turning silently in deep space.