Predicting the Weather | Tom Pnini
Friday, 24.04.2009 – 10.05.2009
Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects is pleased to present Predicting the Weather, an exhibition of new video and sculpture work by New York based artist Tom Pnini.
Pnini spent his childhood in and around the theatre exploring every corner of this living organism. There is a saying in the theatre world: When wandering the theatre, one ultimately finds himself on stage. This saying has resonated with Pnini into his adult life, and has manifested itself in his role as an artist.
Imagine yourself standing to the side of an oval stage. A backdrop is positioned at the center of the stage, dividing the space into two separate units. By standing at this position you are able to see both sides of the stage simultaneously. In the front you see the set and the actors, and experience the illusion in the same way the audience does. In the back, you see the apparatus that operates this illusion.
This fascination with the theatre world can be seen in Pnini's exploration of the art world, placing the viewer where they can experience both sides of the work. The viewer is then mesmerized by the illusion created by the art-piece, while being fully aware of the artifice. This body of work questions the representation of the illusion created within the medium of Video Art, while using sculptures that contain the same characteristics as a theatre set.
Pnini's last exhibition Double Feature is a good example of this idea. The installation consists of three elements; two video works – Volcano Demo and Sunset Demo/Sonya,and a sculpture. In Volcano Demo, the artist built a giant volcano – seventeen meters wide and six meters high, on top of a four-story apartment building in Tel- Aviv. Behind the volcano was a cast of eighteen stage workers that gave life to the illusion using smoke machines and lights. The volcano itself is two-dimensional as the video is divided into four steady front shots that contribute to the illusion.
In Sunset Demo/Sonya, Pnini built a five-meter-diameter two-dimensional sun. The video follows the sun on its course from sunrise to sunset, as a group of people working behind the scenes, holds the sun up and put it in motion. The resulting movement is not smooth as it is man-held. In watching the two videos you might choose to sink into the illusion, however, you can constantly see the way the illusion is made.
The sculptural element is made out of ten rows of twenty cm MDF, each measuring 1.5 meters high by five meters wide, and spaced at variable distances. The pieces are painted red on one side and blue on the other, and cropped into the shape of waves/flames. While walking in the installation only the heads of the people are visible as they seem to be drowning in the sea while going up in flames.