Walk into Bushwick’s SIGNAL Gallery and you might feel as if you’ve just stepped off a spaceship onto the surface of some distant moon. A thick cloud of fog dominates the room, and strangely its opacity seems to vacillate as you move across the room from painting to installation to sculpture. It can be disorienting but also sort of zen inducing, though the gallery cat doesn’t seem to be bothered one way or the other.
An exhibition curated by Bennet Schlesinger, Fissure: Fog, installed the cloud here at SIGNAL when it opened nearly two weeks ago at what’s become one of Brooklyn’s premiere galleries for emerging artists. Fissure features work by local artists including Nikholis Planck, Aidan Koch, Graham Hamilton, and Kayla Guthrie, among others. The works draw from a variety of mediums and artistic practices.
As is always the case at SIGNAL, Fissure: Fog is a pretty laid-back affair. When we swung by the gallery last weekend, Schlesinger bounded down from the obscured lofted lounge area and gave us a run-down of the show. But first, he apologized for the fog. “It’s part of the show,” he assured us.
Schlesinger, whose had two solo shows at SIGNAL, revealed this exhibition was no less a creative impulse for him. “The real impetus for the show came as a way for me to learn more about the people in the community whose work I was interested in,” he explained over email. “These are artists who are working unapologetically across multiple medias, artists who freely shift between working models and platforms.”
Some of the works are simple, and more about texture and color and light than they are conceptual. For example Boss of Shadows II, by Valerie Keane and Daniel Peterson, is a back panel of what was seemingly once a pick-up truck. Peering through the window offers a distorted view of the foggy landscape, and the piece itself is inevitably in your viewing frame from almost any vantage point in the gallery.
The most intriguing piece when it comes to process is Valerie Keane’s Untitled Lamp, a neon, glass, and wire sculpture that hangs from the ceiling. It’s a mashup of hard, sharp materials that are delicately woven together like threads and cling impossibly to one another. It’s hard to resist the urge to reach out and touch the piece.
Conceptually the most alluring work, and one that fits eerily well with the cloud of fog, is Daniel Peterson’s Untitled, Valium Oracle. It’s a clear gas mask complete with a fan that spins so speedily, so smoothly that it appears as nothing more than a quiet hum and oscillating blur of blinding white. It’s hypnotic really, and it’s hard not to imagine it actually being used for trippy purposes in this very room.
Prior to the show there were very few hints as to what the exhibition might look like, and Schlesinger has been just as tight-lipped when it comes to how Fissure: Fog’s Friday performance might play out. Artist Nikholis Planck put the performance together; it features Kayla Guthrie, a singer, writer, and performance artist. We think it’s safe to say the fog will play a role in the performance. How could it not? As for the gallery cat, we’re hoping he makes an appearance too.