20 September 2008

Cindy Bernard at Tracy Williams

Last night, Dan Biddle asked me what good art I'd seen and I was embarrassed that I couldn't immediately think of anything. The first thing that came to mind was the Wiener Werkstätte jewelry show at the Neue Galerie. It was lovely but that was a couple weeks ago. Here it is the third Saturday of the new season and I haven't been to West Chelsea or elsewhere for galleryhopping. So .... as I was out running errands today, I stopped at White Columns and Tracy Williams in the West Village.

The Cindy Bernard show at Tracy Williams is entitled "Silent Key" which stands for a ham radio operator who has left the scene. In this case, it was her grandfather after his death. The show consisted on the lower level of postcards and other remembrances of his ham radio days. Grandpa had never talked about the connecting but Bernard grew up with the noise of Morse Code whenever she visited. Many of the places no longer use the name on the cards and that was part of Bernard's selection process: Bechuanaland, Nyasaland, British Guiana, Yugoslavia, Ceylon, Czechoslovakia, German Democratic Republic. These evoked thoughts of NACO work on changed place names and also my dad's work with the Missionary Board when we were little kids. The Seventh Day Baptists had missionaries in Nyasaland (now Malawi) and British Guiana (now Guyana) so we knew those places well. Upstairs, there is a ledger with entries from Grandpa's communications that read like text messages, Facebook statuses, or overheard cellphone conversations, e.g., "he sed it was snowing," "Getz called up," "he faded out toward last," or "he is big gso man." What's a gso man? I don't know. Bernard has founded the Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS) which has analogies, for me, with social computing (through the name and elsewise), sending messages through the vapors and hoping they get to the right destination (our faith is incredible and has been since we tried to get messages to people beyond the reach of our unamplified voices). The gallerist and I talked about this for a while and she said she gets a lot of messages with people venting about this or that, and it's sometimes not even someone she knows. Maybe that's a cellphone or IMing phenomenon because I don't see that. One does see the errant email message but usually it's followed by a virtual redfaced apology.

No comments: