In Kiss the architect on the mouth, B. Ingrid Olson examines the way both literal and metaphorical senses of compression impact one’s subjectivity. The photographic and sculptural works on view intimately address the relationship between the body and the contours and effects of architectural space. Many of the situations Olson investigates are implied, even conceptual. Her art creates what can be called an expansive claustrophobia, one that sees identity formation as constantly negotiated not only in the built environment but also within the space of social constructions.
Six new photographic pieces with Plexiglas perimeters are installed throughout the gallery and, as with her sculptures, each function as a translation of an impression. Olson takes her photographs within mirrored, flattened environments she constructs in her studio. These pictorial spaces become a room within a room, and are not factual, but an altered, captured version of reality. For this iteration of the works, Olson removed the Plexiglas frames’ facing in order to create spatial hollows that stress the fact that Olson’s images reveal a world that folds back upon itself in multiple ways. Perspective is confused in part because of the bright, flashed whites and flattened colors that hover around a body one presumes is Olson’s. At times, the pictorial field absorbs the figure within the surrounding space; at other times, it severs the body from figural ground. In each picture, the fragmented individual is in a state of becoming, nothing is static and fixed, suspended in a still to be determined fluidity.
The photographic work, as well as the sculptures, further develop Olson’s gendered reading of Minimalism. She sees the sculptures as a reorientation of Minimalism’s intent, where instead of the hyper masculinist forms associated with the works of Donald Judd and Richard Serra, for example, Olson has rendered her objects to the scale of her body—a very conscious reclaiming of space. Several of the sculptures are reliefs. They imply a mold, or suggest that a body has been impressed. However, these spaces are an abstraction of a bodily image. They are approximations that invite closeness but in actuality create distance between the object and the viewer. Much of the work is about this shifting, liminal barrier— something akin to the way skin, or the flesh, mediates one’s subjective experiences with the objective world. These themes continue in other pieces that hint at the hollowed shells of bodily forms: a torso, a breast, a head, and two crotches. Olson refers to these works as “mental impressions.” They suggest a physical directness, as a contact print or a cast object, but they are distanced diversions from reality: separated from a source, impressions of a bodily replica.
Photo by Phoebe d'Heurle and Robert Chase Heishman
Courtesy of the artist and Simone Subal Gallery