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The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2020

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OCT 2020 Issue

Léonie Guyer and Rebeca Bollinger: Threshold

Rebeca Bollinger, <em>Line of History</em>, 2018. Bronze, 171/2 x 10 3/4 x 4 3/5 inches. Photo: Rebeca Bollinger.
Rebeca Bollinger, Line of History, 2018. Bronze, 171/2 x 10 3/4 x 4 3/5 inches. Photo: Rebeca Bollinger.
On View
Interface Gallery
August 28 – September 30, 2020
Oakland, CA

An art review begins upon a threshold, a scriptural portal that bears witness to a historical moment in visual culture—the transportive properties of such writing are perhaps even more notable in this endless summer of sheltering in place. Physically, a threshold is the strip of building materials—wood, concrete, marble—that must be crossed to transition from one environment into another. In a more abstract sense, a threshold is the limit at which something changes or goes into effect, a (de)saturation point. The singular title of Léonie Guyer and Rebeca’s Bollinger’s collaborative show at Interface Gallery was taken from the musings of poet and theologian John O’Donohue in his The Inner Landscape of Beauty podcast: “Threshold is a line which separates two territories of spirit. … How we cross is the key thing.”1

The exhibition consists of four entwined works arranged in a triangle. Closest to the entryway, beneath one of two skylights, is a polaroid by Bollinger facing across the long side of the room toward two marble slabs by Guyer. A painted white wooden beam stretches across the middle of the gallery’s ceiling, marking the spatial separation of these pieces. Between them, on the floor, is the only titled work in the show, Bollinger’s Line of History (2018). These striking objects are linked with one another by the showroom’s lighting, which drifts through windows and skylights, casting soft lines across the room. Even under the smoky haze that deprives us of life-giving sunlight in the Bay Area these days, natural lighting in turn illuminates, highlights, and frames the work.

Rebeca Bollinger, <em>Untitled</em>, 1993, 2020. Polaroid SX70, wood, latex paint, 64 1/2 x 5 1/2 x 8 inches. Photo credit: Graham Holoch.
Rebeca Bollinger, Untitled, 1993, 2020. Polaroid SX70, wood, latex paint, 64 1/2 x 5 1/2 x 8 inches. Photo credit: Graham Holoch.

Guyer’s two works of oil incised on marble, Untitled no. 107 (2019) and Untitled no. 111 (2020), lean adjacent to each other against a wall, raised on a white shelf to blend into the painted white wood, brick, and drywall of the room. The etchings juxtapose small, black (with hints of red from a previous draft), soft, indecipherable iconography with the hard, white, rigid surface of the stone. Directly across the room rests Untitled (1993, 2020), made and assembled by Bollinger, an image developed from a Polaroid SX-70 raised upon a 64 and a half-inch pedestal, a sleek and modest white wooden beam.

Léonie Guyer,<em> Untitled, no. 107</em>, 2019. Oil on incised marble, 24 x 18 7/8 inches. Photo: Graham Holoch.
Léonie Guyer, Untitled, no. 107, 2019. Oil on incised marble, 24 x 18 7/8 inches. Photo: Graham Holoch.

Pointing toward both of these segments of the show from the floor is Bollinger’s bronze Line of History. On a day when the sun breaks through the smog, light activates the reflective bronze through the gallery’s square windows, framing the work on the similarly earth-toned metal floors. A skylight propped slightly open throws the light in an angular shape on the floor to match the sculpture’s silhouette. The skinny trapezoid of light slides increasingly closer to the bronze as the afternoon sun passes through the sky. Inspired by the Mills College bell tower, sometimes played as an instrument, and often displayed in different orientations, Line of History is neither as one-dimensional nor as straight as its name would suggest. Its form undermines the misleadingly rigid title—this line is, in fact, no line at all. Rather, it is an enticing, fluid, snaking blob of metal.

Perhaps this patchy, irregular Line of History still drags us forward in time, like the wind that carries Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus (1920) even as his posturing and his eyes remain tilted toward the past. What, again, does it mean for these works to exist upon a threshold? This latest, and last, exhibition at Interface Gallery arrives as we feel ourselves on a precipice: we risk encountering what lies beyond the unraveling of our social fabric. A threshold signals a material change or activation, abandoning what is left behind to confront, embrace, and to become something new.



Hannah Maier-Katkin

Hannah Maier-Katkin is an alumna of the Whitney ISP and a writer in Oakland, CA.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2020

All Issues