The Guggenheim Magazine
Peripheral Visions: Jim Hodges and Siobhan Liddell
By NANCY SPECTOR
Jim Hodges and Siobhan Liddell are known for the understated grace of their individual aesthetics. Often diaphanous and marginal in appearance, their art functions in the most oblique fashion, quietly inviting perception and intimating meaning. Both artists employ the most unassuming of materials-bits of string, plastic straws, silk flowers, coffee-shop napkins, strips of painted paper, and silver necklace chains-weaving subtle visual metaphors for nature, physical embodiment, and desire. In his work, Hodges deliberately treads the already nebulous line between kitsch and “fine art to articulate a poetry of the commonplace. His garlands of delicately crafted fake flowers and gossamer metal spider webs slyly, and ever so elegantly, situate beauty in the artificial. This fragile work also invokes and plays upon the culturally linked stereotypes of “femininity and “sensitivity as opposed to those associated with “masculinity and “virility. With a similarly light touch, Liddell crafts sculptures that are almost imperceptible: tinted light is reflected from hand-rolled paper curls, whose inverse sides are painted with monochromatic hues; an evocative poem of transparent words is created from slender strips of wire held in place by straight pins; spare clusters of paper cutouts and clumps of papier-mâché are tenuously connected in space by looping and dangling strands of thread. However abstract it may seem, Liddell’s work bespeaks a certain anthropomorphism-a hint of the corporeal-or, at least, an allusion of sentience. Her languid forms suggest the body at rest, sensually stretched out, vulnerable.
For these specially commissioned magazine projects, both artists turned to photography, which, with its ability to capture the momentary gesture, to freeze the transient, is especially suited to their mutual preoccupation with the ephemeral. Rendered in his typically elusive style, Hodges’s “portraits of four of his friends- “Tim, “Shelley, “Tina, and “Melissa -represent each simply by their hands. At once generic appendages and unique, personalized body parts, these hands become evocative synecdoches for the individuals.
Liddell’s montage of stills from her 1995 super-8 film Glint shows four gritty, urban views through a window, two of which are punctuated by the partial silhouette of a woman’s body. The following image is a single enlarged film still bisected by a diagonal text, which poetically meditates on the color of horizon lines. A collage of fragmented and shifting scenes, Glint explores the intricacies and complications of romantic attachments, particularly those between women. Throughout the film, erotic interchange is intimated, as are glimpses of pain, frustration, and loneliness. In the images shown here, Liddell offers an oblique “portrait of a lone woman-perhaps any woman- contemplating other horizons, other loves, and other lives.