Saturday, October 31, 2009

REVIEW: Medicine & Mortality at Burlington's Firehouse

The opening at Burlington City Art's Firehouse Gallery on Friday, Oct. 30 was packed with a rapt audience for two Burlington artists, Linda E. Jones, Sasanqua Link, and Nathaniel Price, an MD and artist from Massachusetts. With insight and charm, the artists spoke about their mutually disquieting work in the context of the show's focus: the tools, procedures and detritus of body intervention as medical technology preserves and extends life surpassing our psychological ability to integrate these advances.

Linda E. Jones focuses on her family, gathering the artifacts of their various medical procedures, the invasions of their bodies via x-rays, stitches, crowns, rendering of their bones, tracings of blood, imaginings of cellular structures, even excised flesh. The walls offer a retrospective of her obsession, an older large mixed media wall sculpture anchored with surgical tubing, several digital prints and recent encaustic paintings, all richly layered to evoke the depths of the body with the tracks and embeddings of medical technology.

Link's meticulous fabricated sculptures include a tall shower-stallish altar adorned by a disquieting abdominal casting in pigmented wax anchored by metal rods, skewers and brackets referencing medical equipment. Other pieces were morbidly fascinating relics made of vulnerable body parts (wax or silicon castings) framed with antiseptic, polished steel, and the glowing Corporeal Observatory presented on a medical table, formed of plaster, wax, nickel silver, stainless steel, pigment, tile, wood, acrylic.

Price's large drawings were of the body created in words, illegible to me in the dim light of the gallery, the meticulous handwriting visually powerful in the minimalistic outline of the form. The body speaks, we listen, we understand as well as we can, an idea communicated as well in the stark plaster bust sitting blocks.

The exhibition, stunning in its expertise and conceptual scope, raises the questions of how memory is stored in the body and how the body communicates its experience, specifically that of invasion by medical procedures meant to interface with its mortality. It's disquieting, brilliant focused and elegantly presented.
Through December 12, 2009
The Firehouse Gallery
Church Street, Burlington

Thursdays at 7 PM
The New flesh: The films of David Cronenberg.