Writ Large, Curated by Ciara Ennis
July 29 - 10 September, 2010 Nichols Gallery, Broad Center, Pitzer College
LOS ANGELES. Pitzer Art Galleries presents an annual installment of a text project bearing the title of Writ Large. The artists involved this year, Marcus Civin, Patrick Hebert, Jane Mi, and Hervé Constant are not supposed to share a common thematic but a common visual feature: the use of language. Written words are used as nude, bare instruments of communication where the observer’s reading interpretation accounts for the sole bank to the meaning flow. In fact, the title of the project itself bears the name of “writ large”, an English idiom that stands for ‘emphasised’ or’ highlighted’. Therefore, the word is the stimulus, not a ready-made answer. The observer-reader is given the uncomfortable and risky task of joining a debate; the spectator is bound to a visual legacy once they lay their eyes on the works. As stated above, the project is hosted by Pitzer college, a relatively young liberal arts institution whose mission has a curricular emphasis in the social and behavioral sciences. And what more than language-driven gestures have an immediate impact on society? Conventionally, words and images, or words in the place of images, belong to the field of advertising, fashion, propaganda... Writ Large defies the common use of language and concept of work of art revealing the absolute absence of borders between the spheres of writing and making art, whether they carry a social weight or not.
Along with the Los Angeles-based artists Marcus Civin, Jane Mi and Patrick Herbert appears the work of an established French London-based artist, Hervé Constant. His oil on canvas, “For Heaven’s Sake”, recalls the tragic massacre of young students at Columbine High School in April 1999. The shooting raised dust all over the world provoking moral panic and a debate on the return of death penalty. At the time the artist was in Boston for an artist residency where the echoes of such dramatic event resulted in an unconscious use of guns in paintings and drawings. ‘For heaven’s sake/catch me before I kill more/ I cannot control myself”: a white-letter sentence floating on a black background is a suffocated cry for help for oneself and for the others while being overwhelmed by uncontrolled actions. Hervé Constant does not merely point his finger to the authors of the massacre, his work investigates the field of human brutality which has constantly shaped the world’s History. “For Heaven’s Sake” is part of a series of works that examine the evolution of human violence bearing in mind scientific parameters avoiding to sink in banalities an commonplaces. As a matter of fact, apart from the canvas inspired by the Columbine shooting, the show comprises a series of photographs of streets and parks in the late 90s’ Bosnia, pictures extrapolated from past installations (Homage to Bosnia), and a four-minute video entitled ‘Killing’. The artist poses himself as a witness of war horrors and human decadence, narrated by direct, brutally simple visual items which concur in what the artist calls “the creation of symbols, the rhizome of Art”.
Francesca Di Fraia