ALLEGORY OF THE UNNAMED CAVE
Installation view of Allegory of the Unnamed Cave, 2020
Currently on view until March 14:
Tops Gallery, 400 South Front Street
& Tops at Madison Ave. Park 151 Madison Avenue
Memphis, TN 38103
Statement / Press Release:
Within the hard to reach dark-zones in a network of caves in middle Tennessee, there exists elaborate cave art, the oldest dating from around 4,000 BCE. The zones are known as the Unnamed Caves. The caves remain unnamed by archeologists in order to keep the locations secret.
Allegory of the Unnamed Cave is a solo show by Corinne Jones at Tops Gallery. The title of the exhibition reimagines the symbolism in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave— by inverting the ascent to sunlit enlightenment and supplanting it with the historical importance of the subterrestrial. The intention of the artist is to present an homage to the Underground. The word “underground” conjures various histories beginning with the Underground Railroad, followed by WWII Resistance Movements, and resulting in postwar counterculture, characterized by subversive music, literature and film.
The work presented in Allegory of the Unnamed Cave is both a symbolic expression and a proposition based on the question— what shape could a monument take if it is conceived as a physical space for social connectivity? The answer takes the form of a large-scale painting installation that spans the gallery walls and floors. The paintings delineate seating areas for social interaction. On top of the unstretched paintings, stacks of moving blankets provide seating that can be rearranged as needed. The paintings are dynamic visual fields that resemble wavelengths. The scale relationship between the wavelength motifs and the quilted lines in the moving blankets is one-to-one, a reference to human scale.
In addition to the main gallery, a text installation is on view at Tops at Madison Avenue Park. The park location is lit up and viewable through a glass wall 24 hours a day. Jones makes use of the accessibility of the space to treat the gallery as an extended marquee. The text work poses a question that addresses our present day social-technological dilemmas: “If mainstream culture comes to us as a hyperreal feedback loop, how do we act to initiate the radical possibilities expressed by way of the underground?”
BANNER FOR THE LOST SEA
Installation view of Banner forthe Lost Sea, 2018
Statement / Press Release:
The Lost Sea is the title of an on-going body of work by Corinne Jones. The title references the immense sunless underground lake in East Tennessee. The lake was hidden or revealed over time due to rising and falling water that obscured the cave entrance. The complex geological chambers around the lake contain fragments of artifacts and evidence. Pleistocene jaguar footprints were left on the mud floor and Confederate graffiti was charred onto the ceiling. The depths of the Lost Sea and the secrets it holds are unknown. Jones’ use of the title is a metaphor for the hidden histories with which our country has yet to reckon.
Banner for the Lost Sea, is comprised of marks etched into the enamel of the painting’s surface. The large shaped painting represents both a banner and a wave. The gestural marks make up a chevron motif that is repeated to the point of erasure. Parallel to the painting, Banner for Memphis, is installed on the glass wall of the gallery. The frieze is made of mirrored window film that both hides and reveals the painting behind it, depending on the viewer’s perspective.
CHAMBER OF THE LOST SEA
Installation view of Chamber of the Lost Sea, 2018
Statement / Press Release:
The Lost Sea is the largest underground lake in the U.S. It is located in a complex system of caves named Craighead Caverns at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Over time, the small cave entrance to the lake was hidden due to rising water, and later it was re-discovered by different people with various motives. Their histories and intentions are little known and largely whitewashed. What is known is that certain chambers were used by generations of Native people. White settlers began using the temperate caves for food storage around 1820. Confederate soldiers mined the caves for saltpeter which was used for ammunition, and they left their grafiti charred into the ceiling. In 1915, a dancehall floor was installed in a large chamber, positioned alongside cockfights and gambling. Bootleggers operated stills of moonshine. In 1927, electric lights were established to showcase the prowess of the new Tennessee Power Co. By 1965, the Lost Sea was opened as a tourist attraction by a group of stockholders. The visible area of the lake is 4.5 acres but the depths of the body of water are still unknown. Given the past exploitative activity and shady claims of ownership, It is not difficult to imagine what other behavior might have occurred within these clandestine walls where evidence could have been easily hidden in the sunless sea.
The Lost Sea is the title of a new body of work by Corinne Jones. The title references the underground lake as an allegorical repository of hidden histories with which our country has yet to reckon. The artist seeks to connect the past and present by making a physical space to communicate untold, lesser known or marginalized stories. Islands of the Lost Sea, 2018, are sculptural works made of stacks of moving blankets on top of ‘floor paintings’. The stacked blankets are an invitation to the viewer to have a seat, to gather in an area designated for discussion. Within the Chamber of the Lost Sea, the 'islands' are flanked by two large paintings from a continuing series, Counterpart Sevens 5 (A+B), 2018. The paintings are equiluminant color fields on seven-sided canvases that mirror each other. A site-specific work, Double Trap, Single Use, 2018, is made from transparent sheets of colored plastic adhered to both sides of the gallery window. The rippled lines of the window piece parallel the lines in the ‘floor paintings’ and moving blankets.
PRESENCING A SCENE
Still from Runner: for Taylor, MS, 2017, HD digital video, limited edition, duration: 4:32 loop
Statement /Press Release:
Tops Gallery presents Presencing A Scene. Corinne Jones’ second solo show at Tops utilizes the architecture of Madison Avenue Park which is divided into two parts: an outdoor above-ground ‘stage’ and an indoor below-ground gallery space. The gallery, which is seen through a glass wall, contains Jones’ site-specific installation, Runner for Madison Ave Park, 2017. The installation is made of remnant carpet tiles adhered to painted walls. A horizon line sets up a ‘scene’ that mimics the dioramic aspect of the space. The carpet tiles are fitted together into a wave-like line that frames the scene. The remnant tiles represent an index of modernist tropes. Each one has a different machine-made pattern and coloration that can be attributed to trends in art and design over time. The muted tropes are relocated and used as a framing device, upending the domestic or industrial function of the carpet. The scene is flanked by two shaped paintings, Counterpart Sevens 4 (A + B), 2017. The paintings mirror each other, suggesting a symbolic loop. Above the gallery on an outdoor screen, a video entitled Runner for Taylor, MS, 2017 will run on a loop at specific times. The subject of the video is a large ‘frame’ made of carpet tiles that were found in the nearby woods and were laid out on the rural landscape. The accompanying audio recorded in the countryside enhances the semi-natural park setting.
KNOCK ON EFFECT: Anne Eastman & Corinne Jones
Detail of KNOCK ON EFFECT, 2017
Statement /Press Release:
The knock on effect is a causal sequence, a chain of events that is characterized as incidental, the outcome of which is more speculative than demonstrable. It is difficult to locate the beginning and the end is unforeseeable. How should we continue?
Anne Eastman’s sculptures incorporate found images cut and torn from the last six months of the New York Times. A table stands in the middle of the gallery supporting tiers of glass with scattered clippings casting a reflective pool of overlapping imagery in the mirror below while smaller constellations of newspaper fragments float between standing panes of glass forming chance collages with their reflected reversed side.
Corinne Jones’ paper intervention, a horizontal frieze, spans the gallery wall, windows and exterior wall. Inside, a vertical frieze comprised of tiles, forms the outline of a monolithic facade on the wall and its ‘shadow’ or ‘reflection’ on the floor. The two site specific works make use of two different factory produced materials and are both shaped from the same template. The repetitive arrangement of the cut pieces form a wave-like gesture, a symbolic depiction of a causal sequence.
Review: The New Yorker
Table and mirror works by Anne Eastman.
TRENDS IN REPURPOSED ABSTRACTION
Pages from artist's book, 2015
The individual sheets of construction paper that make up Motif for MuseumofAmericabooks were placed against the window panes of the artist’s studio and intentionally exposed to the sun for several weeks. The artist's attraction to the use of this modest and easily acquired material, aside from the strong associations that are conjured by it, lies in its ephemeral and nonarchival character. The readily available standardized colored sheets, tend to respond differently to the sun, and offer the artist a method by which to achieve tonal variations quickly and simply. The undulating, rhythmical composition achieved by the attentive yet lightly applied wavelike forms, each equal in dimensions and cut from one shaped template, allude literally to the ways that color and light travel. The composition reads both as a playful abstraction and as literal figuration.
The two paintings installed in the exhibition, Casting Out Sevens 15 and 16 derive from a series of the same name that was begun in 2013. The mathematical term is borrowed by the artist as a metaphorical standin that refers to the way that the corners of the sevensided shaped paintings in this series, deflect attention directionally outward and serve to potentially highlight the surrounding wall space. The autonomous sevensided shapes are a result arrived at through a concerted effort by the artist to have each form evade recognizability as being architecturally, symbolically, or iconically familiar in form. Alongside these strategies of deflection and defamiliarization, there exists a surface on which the artist has worked out problems specific to painting.
A small format artists book titled Trends in Repurposed Abstraction has been published on the occasion of the exhibition.
Lamar Park Precipice (stilll from Lamar Park, Machu) 2014
Statement /Press Release:
Plain English at Tops Gallery, Memphis, TN, is an installation of ten paintings, a video, and an artist book. The exhibition takes its name from the book title. Plain English, 2014, letterpress edition of 50, is a morally ambiguous, allegorical tale that sets a stage where - within a status quo - there is the potential for art to occur.
The paintings are each titled Casting Out Sevens, 2013-2015, acrylic on shaped canvas, variable sizes. Each painting is a singular episode of subtle, equiluminant color on a distinctly shaped structure. The layered painting method produces a gentle shift between warm and cool tonalities that give the paintings an indeterminate quality. The surfaces waver like an in-between sonic tone or fluctuating temperature. The anatomy of each canvas is seven-sided, with each shape eluding references that could be easily categorized. At the same time, the shapes are active signifiers. The seven corners of each painting point to the periphery of the canvas. By extension, they direct attention to the exhibition space itself and to the other paintings within it. The paintings can be seen as separate accounts of a connected event.
The video, Lamar Park, Machu, 2012, made in collaboration with Liam Gillick, demonstrates a particular sense of remoteness in a public park. Its slide show format is a comparison of scale relationships. The site appears to be a life-sized model and a "stand in" for the fictional locations named in Plain English.
Plain English, 2014, letterpress, edition of 50, 6.5" x6.5"
Motif for Tidal Fever, 2014, Corinne Jones, faded and cut construction paper on ceiling
Statement /Press Release:
“STOP” was the first word I learned to read. As the car idled beside the red sign with white letters I’d seen so many times from my passenger seat, I sounded out the letters in my mind for the first time. Instantly the symbol, sign, and meaning collapsed into one message -- STOP. My head swelled. I went quiet, as children sometimes do. Prior to the shock, I’d had a very private and elaborate negotiation with letters and numbers. They had rank, color, and personality that were detached from language or math. Their personalities were sometimes at odds with one another and therefore I resisted the order and logic of the arrangements that I was being taught. I was absorbed by a complex subjective system guided by synesthesia, a condition in which sensory pathways merge. Now this sudden alignment of awareness recast everything. I felt both charged and dispirited, hot and cold, realizing that everything was probably coded in this way.
Moments later when we arrived home, I retreated to my bedroom. I felt compelled, conversely, both to physically write out the word and to keep the epiphany a secret. I slipped down the hallway on socked feet and rummaged around in the kitchen. Finding two long white candles in a drawer and knowing that I shouldn’t take them, I did, and skulked back through the hallway to my bedroom. I parted the curtains and climbed onto the windowsill. Candle in hand I began carefully, slowly and then with ease, to write. The wax glided smoothly over the glass as I drew the word “STOP” repeatedly. I filled the surface of the window as high as I could reach and was satisfied. The wax letters were all but invisible on the glass. Only sometimes, when the sunlight shone through at a certain angle…
Tidal Fever at Jackie Klempay, Brooklyn, New York, is an installation of paintings, each titled Casting Out Sevens, 2013-2015, acrylic on shaped canvas, variable sizes. The irregular shapes are directional, they point to the surrounding environment. In this case, the environment is a bedroom, hallway and kitchen ostensibly. The layout of the project space tacitly mirrors the apartment setting in the story. The paintings reflect a continued interest in narrative events; however, there is no correlative representation or signage in the work. The “story” takes place outside of the paintings. The seven sided paintings are comprised of subtle equiluminant color. The surfaces are painted with layers of contrasting color and sanded back to reveal underlying layers. This method produces a gentle shift between warm and cool values that give the paintings an indeterminate appearance. The slight fluctuation of the surface can be gauged like a wavering sonic tone or an unstable temperature. The title, Casting Out Sevens, alludes to an arithmetical operation but the deduction is in the painting process.