The Sound You See Reverberating

Vicki DaSilva: Reverb
Able Fine Art NY Gallery

In her continuing effort to bring to the fore artists who use light and sound as a primary medium,  Able Fine Art NY Gallery curator Jill Conner offers Reverb, an exhibition of the works of photographer Vicki DaSilva. When first entering the dimly lit fifth floor gallery space, you are confronted with puzzling yet haunting images of curtains of light flowing through darkened, derelict spaces. The mystery of exactly what it is you are looking at is solved when you enter the second half of the exhibition. This is where you will find a prerecorded video of the artist as she moves, writes, and spins through interior and exterior spaces with eight-foot fluorescent lamp in hand. Sometimes white, other times colored or multi-colored, DaSilva 'performs' her magic before a tripod-mounted camera set for a long exposure. In doing so, the artist is able to capture, as a color photograph, the multitude of trailing movements the lights leave behind as they seemingly float through time and space.

The resulting imagery is expansive, Richard Serra-like in its volume and Christo-like in its veiled mystery. I was even reminded of the noted time-lapse photographer Atta Kim, and streetwise graffiti artists, especially when she writes words in light. And her cursive writing has a definite bite to it, with references to such art political luminaries as Ai Weiwei with such phrasing as "Never Sorry" or "Wall Power," the latter a reference to the impact of wall-installed art. "4%" is another strong topical reference. For this, DaSilva scribed with light in front of the darkened and gated-shut entrance of MOMA the number 4%, a reference to what eminent art critic Jerry Saltz wrote when he publicly noted in a Facebook thread that the Museum of Modern Art has a mere 4% of its permanent collection of Modern and Contemporary painting and sculpture dedicated to the art of women.

The most mind-bending photograph of a light painting is "Light Tartan: Fountain Park #4." Here DaSilva manages to fabricate, with alternating applications of colored lights rolled along long spans of an open field in back of an abandoned silk factory, a huge replication of a Burberry plaid in blue, yellow, and orange-red. It is almost unbelievable that the artist used only colored light, not miles of shear silky fabric, to produce this work.

But aside from the compelling process DaSilva uses to make her captivating art, there is in the evidence of light trails left behind a rather solid mark on this writer's understanding of the elusive and tantalizing power of illumination. 

Able Fine Art NY Gallery is at 511 West 25th Street in Manhattan.