Issue #191
Tickets, Please June 1, 2012

Kevin Cooley
Skyward (video still)
9 min 45 sec HD Video Installation
Copyright Kevin Cooley. Courtesy of Marty Walker Gallery, Dallas, TX

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Joachim Koester and Kevin Cooley

Joachim Koester: To navigate, in a genuine way, in the unknown...
MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge
May 10 - July 8, 2012

As an idea, the unknown might be seen as a central preoccupation of artists, explorers and scientists alike. The preponderance of artists building boats, lean-to’s and embarking on cross-country journeys as artwork alongside explorations of pioneer myths attest to one form of this. For Danish artist Joachim Koester the metaphysical, scientific and historical varieties of the unknown have long been at the center of his practice and is at the heart of his current exhibition at MIT’s List Center. Curated by João Ribas, Koester’s work “...blurs document and narrative in this exploration of how knowledge, perception, and the body intertwine the rational with the obscure. By tracing forgotten journeys, occult phenomena, and esoteric forms of knowledge through photography, text, video and film, Koester addresses the legacy of transgressive means for understanding the unseen and the unknown.” Koester’s investigation of bodily practices and altered states of consciousness are the perfect irrational fodder for the non-spectacular video and film installations and photographic projects that make up the exhibition. Made between 1996 and today Koester’s works are as enigmatic and entrancing as their subject—a welcomed relationship and antidote to the overly rational, spectacle-driven world we find ourselves in. After recently watching his film, To navigate, in a genuine way, in the unknown necessitates an attitude of daring, but not one of recklessness (movements generated from the Magical Passes of Carlos Castaneda) (2009), at The Hessel Museum of Art my brain left singed with the silent and rhythmic movements of the film's actor as he performed a series of salient and atavistic gestures in front of a black background. Cambridge is calling...

Eric Zimmerman is an artist and Editor of ...might be good.

Kevin Cooley: Skyward
Marty Walker Gallery, Dallas
May 10 – June 16, 2012

Kevin Cooley’s images deal with the natural world, or rather, culls the surreal from it. Here, the historically treaded subject of mankind’s relationship with nature leaps into a contemporary context, maintaining its ability to stay away from politics and within the realm of the sublime. His photographs lead you into quintessential scenes of wooded forests, arctic frontiers, ocean vistas and suburban landscapes, transforming these nondescript places into everywhere and nowhere; a place that you recognize but have never been. Long exposures transform light and color into a unique palette while artificial light sources reveal scenes that are visible only through the photographic process. The luminous trail of an aircraft becomes a streaking aurora borealis and the most mundane illuminations—a street lamp, the glow from a window, a campfire—become transcendent symbols of human survival. His video work operates in the same vein, his latest piece, Skyward, on view now at Mary Walker Gallery. Masterfully constructed, Cooley seamlessly threads together a collection of images to create an upward view of the Los Angeles skyscape that is grounded in reality but ultimately fictitious. Iconic images of palm trees are interwoven with clips of stretching freeways, looming buildings and airborne objects, be they animal or aircraft, pushing the already uncommon view from below to a refreshingly unfamiliar level. Projected onto the ceiling, Cooley coerces both a physical and metaphysical viewing from the audience, preparing a psychological backdrop for the video, then slowly pulling that backdrop away, creating a fully visceral experience.

Emily Ng is an artist and Production Associate at Fluent~Collaborative.

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