Flash Art

January, 1993

By Adrian Dannatt
Delicate, graceful, organic, subtle, detailed, shy, discreet, witty, Liddell’s first solo show so demands adjectives it’s better, if more difficult, to get them all out of the way first. Appropriately entitled “Together in One Room Separately,” the single, small gallery room looked as if perfectly scaled for this group of drawings and constructions that worked as both an installation and selection of individual pieces. Liddell operates between boundaries, and if the term “sculpture” would seem clumsy to describe her 30 interventions, so the word “installation” would seem too blatant for the relationship between all these different elements. 

The center of the show both as architectural anchor and aesthetic nexus, was a piece of ordinary white thread tied from the ceiling in the middle of the room and dangling, trailing to the floor. As modest as its title and its price, Untitled 1992, 10 cents, this piece suggested the full range of gambits at Liddell’s disposal, defusing pomposity with good humor and simplicity, letting things speak for themselves with only the faintest foreign accent. Around this string a metaphoric narrative slowly unfolded, a sensibility that would be tempting to name as an emotion. Using found objects, scraps of transparent plastic, rolled San Francisco bus tickets, thread, tape, ordinary abandoned sticks, these works depended on balance in every sense, literal and figurative, they balanced themselves against the walls, from the ceiling, and in response to one another. But as with all such balancing acts there is also inherent danger: one slip in the wrong direction, however minor, and the ruin is complete. Liddell handles the space and all her elements with such dexterity, with such, well, fill in all of the first line above, that the cumulative effect is miraculous.