4 x 4: 4 artists, 4 curators at GOCA 121 is a show steeped in contrasts. Despite a unifying theme of only black-and-white artwork, 4 x 4 holds an Alice in Wonderland-kind of feel, large-scale works are gentle and fragile, small-scale works are weighted with a dark moodiness.
This dreamy juxtaposition is best exemplified in Kate Petley’s installation "Nothing;" three enormous round balloons that float in one of GOCA’s rooms. They sway and bounce with the air currents caused by the ceiling vents and passers by, buoyed in an airy pond like giant anemones.
If you’re careful, you can place a delicate palm on the skin of the balloons, a move that bewilderingly betrays their intense fragility. It’s like you can feel the other side of the skin, a distance thinner than paper.
In the next room, Carol Golemboski’s electrifyingly lonely works cast a luminous glow. The silver gelatin photos' marked jelly-like texture (big surprise, I know) offsets the harried scratches that frame her subjects by creating an elegant field for her dusty, old-fashioned aesthetic (for more on Golemboski’s work, read this.)
Across from Golemboski’s prints hang Andrew Beckham’s double-framed photographs. These carbon-aluminum prints of landscapes and other subjects are reminiscent of fading daguerreotypes. They are highly reflective — I found myself staring at my own face a few times — and ghostly like tarnished mercury glass.
“Phantom Canyon” is a remarkable animated video by Stacey Steers that utilizes Victorian paper cut outs and drawings to create 4000 collages that make up a nightmarish narrative following a woman in a surreal world with giant beetles she slays with scissors, giant fish that swallow her and a winged lover that wraps her in sinister wings.
Online, the video (which you can view on her website, staceysteers.com) is crisp and richly detailed. At GOCA, however, it’s projected on a wide wall, giving it an ephemeral effect while at the same time amplifying the chimerical terrors.
I recommend experiencing "Phantom" on a particularly quiet day in the gallery, so you can hear the tinkling, tinny sound affects, the nighttime sounds like drops of water in a basin, muffled breathing and soft monophonic music. You'll also enjoy the eerie gravity of the rest of the show, with its sleepy, metaphysical side and ultra-aware, peek-over-your-shoulder side.