Art in America
Siobhan Liddell at CRG
By Sarah Valdez
Various objects were strewn, but not haphazardly, throughout the gallery: big black leather-padded wedges; lumpy papier-mâché and bronze sculptures; and cast-glass rods of different sizes and colors. Han in vertically from the ceiling across one corner of the room was a large sheet of white paper with a cutout triangle that also functioned as a door to the other side. The tip of the triangle marked the center of a circular sunburst drawn on both sides of the translucent paper with colored pencil in yellow, orange, red and pink that barely tinted the little cavelike corner space behind. Or at least that’s how it was the day I visited—Siobhan Liddell reserved the right to rearrange the elements in her installation as often as she liked throughout the duration of her exhibition.
Titled ‘New Work,” her latest show dealt with the way bodies, encounters and light translate into psychic residue. The padded leather triangles were there for gallery-goers to lean or lie upon, receiving bodily impressions that gradually but inevitably disappear. The bronze and papier-mâché blobs bore partial imprints of bodies, ‘fossils” (in the artist’s words) of people now not there. The drawings and the glass rods were there to “mediate light.”
The combination of objects in the room struck initial visual discord. It wasn’t clear to me why the various components were put together. A few moments of looking, however, aroused my curiosity and provided impetus for exploration. A red or blue shadow cast next to one of the glass rods, a view of one of the bronze sculptures from an unexpected angle, or a revelation as to which body part had been molded with papier-mâché propelled me from one object to the next, as my enthusiasm grew. The time it took for bodily impressions to fade from the black leather wedges became particularly captivating. Taking a cue from Bruce Nauman’s strategy of reversing positive and negative space, Liddell explores what she calls other possibilities.” Adventuring into the realm of the intangible and coaxing the ephemeral to reveal itself, Liddell demonstrates that there is a color, a shape and an actuality to places and sensations left behind.