THE SEASONS BY HAROLD ANCART
ABALON BY JEAN-MARIE APPRIOU
The Seasons by Harold Ancart
The game finds its origins in the very beginning of civilization. The earliest representations of it date as far back as 2000 BC in ancient Egypt. Since then, the game has remained virtually unchanged. All you need is a ball and a wall. In the 1800s, Irish immigrants were largely responsible for spreading the game known as handball in America. The handball court was a place for immigrants who had no other means for leisure to meet each other, gather, and play. Nowadays the game has grown into one of the most widely played games in the country. New York has become the Mecca of handball.
The walls are made of cinderblock covered with cement - dimensions are variable. Two painted stripes mark the limit of the playground. They are mostly double sided, but not always. There are over two thousand of them across the five boroughs. Most commonly they are single freestanding walls, but you can also find them aligned next to each other in sets of two or three. The walls are often repainted because of graffiti, or re-patched, because of the poor quality of the cement coating. I noticed that the people appointed by the department of Parks & Recreation to fix them always used a cement or a paint of a different color. A little more green or a little less beige than the underlying one. As if they were putting a point of honor on using a color that was slightly off from the original. The fields of colors overlap, framing the underlying graffiti typically in the shapes of squares or clumsy rectangles that resemble clouds. This often allows the underlying colors to show through. The stripes that mark the limits of the playground are constantly being repainted too, in the same nonchalant way.
Abalon by Jean-Marie Appriou
Nine glass butterflies perch in suspended motion on gallery walls. Their once molten forms are now glossy and iridescent, the gnarled and luminous products of alchemy.These butterflies are the chorus to a cast of solitary characters, the absent rhythm for their honed maneuvers. To blow a horn, to dive underwater, to pull a bow taut each require the measured breath of supreme focus.
The unfolding narrative carries the torch of Symbolism. It is nonlinear and hardly allegorical. Like Gustave’s Moreau’s visions, each character has been conjured in aluminum, bronze, and glass from intuitive gestures, forged in tableau. They do not work together, but stand alone, absorbed in the roles they are poised to perform.
Their scenography is terrestrial, transformational, possibly operatic—ocean and forest, monumental and shallow. Behind a crashing wave, a grotto is lit by blown-glass candle. A refuge for a hermit maybe, or in this case, a psychotropic journeyer in the form of a nutmeg hull. Divers wriggle along the seafloor as a three-headed huntress readies her arrow nearby. Her posture gestures to stolid women of antiquity; she is impassible, chest puffed in deep inhalation. Like the divers, her breath is her passageway to concentration.
At the entry to a forest, a child plays the flute as another holds a blowgun to his mouth. Like the ambulant nutmeg hull, the child-hunter teeters on the precipice of psychedelia. Sucking, not blowing the poison. And then, around the bend, a woman stands alone in deep meditation. Her role is, simply, respiration. In Sanskrit, prana describes the energy that all life on earth is imbued with, but also signals breathing, the most elemental human action.