english / norsk
Photo: Dag-Arve Forbergskog

Christiane Kelegher and Cozette Phillips
Babel Art Space
Jan. 28 - Feb. 6. 2011

Christiane Kelegher makes pictures that are glimpses of an imaginative, dreamy parallel reality, a reality that occurs in the tension between light and darkness. Using drawings, paper sculptures and phototography, she explores the perception of imagination and reality placed beyond time and space. We are invited into Kelegeher’s universe which is inspired by a surrealistic, dreamlike aesthetics. The works are grouped in three related and overlapping series. “Will’o’the wisp” is a sequence of drawings composed of organically flowing lines of ink on paper which indicate miniscule oases of urban flora. Recurrent elements are the tree, grass, plants, and the moon. Here and there the paper is cut to make subtle negative forms against the white surface. The inspiration to these drawings comes from Kelegher’s strolls in Trondheim’s parks, particularly the landscape around the Nidaros Cathedral. According to Kelegher, the motifs have appeared in the “tiny pockets of light” at dusk or dawn. Light works as a portal leading to discoveries of everyday magic for the observant eye. “Will-o’-the wisp” is the legend of the bog mist, a spiritual presence which can be distinguished in the light. Influenced by the study of mystical places by the Irish photographer and video artist Willie Dohertys, she makes use of this sense of mystery in the two photo series “Attic ghost” and “Apparition”. In both series the architectonic elements of the attic make up a scarcely perceived narrative for a well-lighted paper sculpture. But what may lurk in the unlighted nooks and corners of the dark attic? The term “apparition” points to something which is not there, but which can be guessed at, a threatening shadow in the background. The drawings reappear in the photos, and the undulating lines, the composition, the interplay of black and white, light and darkness, constitute an imaginative, dreamlike reality.

The surroundings look different depending on the light conditions – bright daylight or dusk – and as soon as sunlight is filtered through the atmosphere the creepy attic changes into an ordinary storehouse room. Rather than contemplating what may lurk in the shadows, Kelegher seems to wonder what may be hidden in the glimpses of light. It is indeed the “tiny pockets of light” that unite the various works and act as portals to a parallel reality which shines forth in the absence of darkness.

Information about the artist: Christiane Kelegher lives and works in Edinburgh, Scotland. She is 22 years old and in her fourth year of the Intermedia Art Program at Edinburgh College of Art. She has exhibited her works at several showrooms in her home town.

Cozette Phillips
The American artist Cozette Phillips works mainly with sculptural metal objects connected with man’s relation to his surroundings and to animals. Through a series of five works which consist of bridles, a means to control horses, we are invited to reflect on how the function of an object defines its meaning. The fact that the horse itself is absent, underlines the function of the harness; it is a means of power and control.

One may rein a horse – one is in control. The bridle is made to put pressure on the most sensitive parts of the animal’s head so that one can direct and control its movements. The horse is an iconic figure often associated with pride and freedom. The silhouette of a galloping wild horse against the horizon is a powerful image of absolute freedom, strength or vitality.

“Horse” is, by the way, also another name for heroin. One may find examples of this use of the term for instance on the rock scene of the 1970’s where freedom and vitality was a longed-for state of mind in an otherwise bleak reality. Figuratively, there is a great contrast between the tamed horse and the wild one. Common metaphors include “horsepower” in connection with cars, talking about “getting on one’s high horse”, or referring to the Trojan horse. An interplay exists between what is free and what is tamed, and prestige is linked to bridling and controlling that which is wild.

The series is simply called “Bridals” and shows an abstraction from the first bridle, which is put together in the ordinary fashion, to the final one where the headpiece and the reins are separated. Gradually, the emphasis has shifted from information about the harness to lines and the material used. The simplicity of the forms underlines the content. Thus, a tension exist in the materiality of the work and in its conceptual ideas. The fact that the harness is shaped in metal underlines cool human control and dominion. The hard, tight, harness hung from hooks against white walls produces a sharp, cold expression, intensified by the absence of the live, warm body of the horse. In this way, the harness becomes a symbol and an image of human need to domesticate our surroundings, our search for power and control, our seeing ourselves as superior beings.

A strange association pops up in the encounter with the harness. If you take away the l from bridle, you are left with the word bride. The English term for horse care is grooming. It makes me think of bride & groom – and how matrimony is a way in which society institutionalizes human beings. Which is also a kind of controlling organisation. Just a passing thought.

Information about the artist:
Cozette Phillips has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in sculpture and illustration from Columbus College of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts Degree in the Metals program at the State University of New York at New Palz. She now resides in Rochester New York, and she has exhibited in numerous galleries in the USA.

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Translated by Birgit Kvamme Lundheim