17 January – 22 March 2014
Private view Thursday 16 January 2014, 6-9pm
waterside contemporary presents Who distinguishes light from dark, a solo exhibition by Ariel Reichman, his first in the UK.
Through film, photography, drawing and installation, Reichman’s practice explores a paradoxical space between the poetic and the political, retaining a sense of innocence and childlike conviction with which to critically observe its institutional surroundings.
The exhibition itself rejects the perimeter of the gallery, leaving all walls empty. A central, purpose-built structure houses Secret Performance (I have to be strong), in which the artist tries to operate a wind-up torch to provide light for the duration of a reel of 16mm film, struggling to sustain the action and himself remaining obscure.
Reichman creates conditions for seeing, a moment in which the personal becomes public and extrovert. In the video My Mother, you see, she doesn’t know how to use a lighter, the artist’s mother tries to ignite a cigarette lighter, having never held or used one before. Her hand enjoys the unknown object’s potential of light and warmth, but these come at a price – and this admission of unknowing and hesitation brings both reward and frustration.
Images appear at once metaphor and figurative, and it is often not clear whether we are looking in or out. Using modest means and forms, the artist places his viewers near a boundary, a physical, ideological or emotional structure. Electric Fence, a series of photographs consisting of a single continuous white line that is at first difficult to identify, withdraws into seductive abstraction with ease. All the same, the image reproduces stark and unforgiving conditions – negation, invisibility, permanence.
This repeating ambiguity in Reichman’s work is an invitation to cross from one mental state to the other, and highlights that while this experience can be freeing, it can also lead to renewed confrontation.