Andy Coolquitt: iight

Lisa Cooley, New York

Through November 16, 2008
by Arnaud Gerspacher

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      Andy Coolquitt
      metal, epoxy, lightbulbs, wire
      49 x 18 x 5 inches
      Courtesy the artist and Lisa Cooley Fine Art

      View Gallery

      Immediately entering Andy Coolquitt’s intimate solo show at Lisa Cooley, the gallery goer comes face-to-face with a thin assemblage of suspended metal rods in the shape of a wide-angled upside down “V” with fat light-bulbs emanating a soft glow out each end. The metal rods, which taper gradually, are alternatively painted red, off-white and blue, making the work, hold on to me (2008), seem a distant metallic and electric cousin to a Broodthaers (elbow) bone. Whether or not this work, along with the rest of the show, is as political is a question worth pondering.

      Not in question is the beautiful and delicate tension Coolquitt’s various light-bulb structures evoke. Of the 15 works on display, 7 are variations of the one described above. The crucial difference is their positioning in the gallery. Unlike the suspended hold on to me, the rest are propped up throughout the space. The resulting contact between the light bulbs, the walland in some cases the floor or the ceiling—is truly affective. In wink wink (2008), two metal rods with light-bulbs at each end casually lean against the wall and stand on the floor. There is nothing casual, however, about the resulting tension: the weight of one end presses down on its light source, as if its bulb might burst at any moment, while the opposite end counteracts this tension in a flush, buoyant relationship with the wall.

      In the middle of the gallery, a single metal rod, 1 thru 10 (2008), curves slightly as it rises from the floor to make light-bulb contact with the ceiling. Off to the side and leaning against the wall is the work from which the show draws its title, iight (2008), a “U” shaped variant of hold on to me. On the other side, 21st century agressive carpet growth (2008), is a single rod draped by an oppressively dingy carpet with light-bulbs bracing both ends. In each case, there is a play of contact between the work and the physical space, a play that makes the viewer wonder whether the illuminative energy comes from inside the work, or is somehow magically activated by the contact itself: in short, a play between materiality and poetry.

      All the works are bricolages of mundane found objects, but not all are plug-in-able. Coolquitt includes rods with irreverently sculpted middle fingers at each end, a stout block of wood masked by a paper bag, and a liquid-filled malt liqueur bottle with a chain of drinking straws jutting out the mouth and rising up in the air, just to name a few. Balancing out the show, these objects seem to be props in a ritual long-since forgotten, or private meanings long-since inaccessible. Or, more simply, they are objects normally relegated to dumpsters and basements now salvaged and given renewed meaning. In a time of heightening eco-politics, this logic of recycling should seem timely. And if this review began with a begged political question, the answer might come in the form of this litter(al) return of repressed objects, and in the form of light-bulb sculptures that seem to sustain themselves through connections and currents of energy endlessly looping from one end to the other. Coolquitt’s work may very well be at once a material display and poetic polemic for clean, renewable energies, with, quite naturally, no drilling involved.

      Arnaud Gerspacher is pursuing his Ph.D. in Art History at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York.


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