(sugar paper, chalk, paper, paint, concealer stick, foundation, fake tan)
Causes Bend, 2007
(plaster, sugar paper, chalk, fabric dye, towel)
Our daily encounters with the actuality of the world are made, by many, through a screen of artificial enhancement. Preparations that conceal or augment our physical appearance are applied to shield our interior from the outside world; we bathe, we make-up and we hide. It is in this staging and restaging of our exterior selves that Karla Black explores the detritus of the day to day.
Black’s new works sit delicately, swaying gently every time the door opens, readjusting and resettling themselves with each gust of air. The scars from these movements begin to encroach on the edges and fixings for each work and, pleasingly, each has taken on its own life since the artist left the space. They are fragile and slight, colours muted to powder whites, clear plastics, pastes and gels with a translucence that suggests an implied language of the disappeared; invisible in their informality and conjuring the associative memories in these everyday substances, that are otherwise left dormant. The exhibition is discreet and considered, the installation minimal and in places contemplative with large areas of the gallery untouched as if to mimic the sparse and irregular nature of recollection itself.
In Pleasers Blend (2007) a large sheet of off-coloured sugar and chalk paper is taped precariously to the ceiling, providing the surface to a kind of theatrical backdrop of disguise. Beige liquid foundation and concealer stick are smeared across the lower section of the paper, the tone matt and unnatural like the flat colouring young girls imagine to be the desirable facial complexion. The hue of fake tan applied below is the shade considered ‘natural’ in the pursuit of the healthy glow. Edges are blended and layers left heavy, yet the imperfections and the slow sag of the paper remain visible. That familiar toxic-looking blue hair gel makes an appearance in Not a Half Life Now (2007) which begins as a partial obstruction to the gallery entrance, undulating in waves between ceiling and floor, and finally ends in a heap at the edge of the space. Its surface is taped and gooed together with a variety of bathroom toiletries, clear or palely coloured gels and pastes that are decipherable only by recollections of familiar smells and textures. This sophisticated abstraction of the daily ritual of preparation, with its continuously fading application, is finely transposed to Black’s ephemeral sculptures that first discolour and eventually disintegrate. Our familiarity with these substances is brought up against Black’s study of transience to reinforce the lurking knowledge that, despite our best efforts, we eventually erode and waste away. Ilsa Colsell