A STORY OF BASKETS, WOMEN AND EGGS
About THE OTHER AND OTHERWISE by TRULEE HALL
an immersive installation at Maccarone Gallery, Los Angeles 2019
TEXT BY ROSANNA ALBERTINI
“When a new form appears, it isn’t to express a new content. … We must turn over the object as if we were turning a log over the fire. Than the object can be perceived as if it was the first time.” (Viktor Sklovskji)
WOMAN CHICKEN EGGS Trulee’s installation spreads out in two rooms as big as a plaza: painted, sculpted, in videographical stories, partially contained in incomplete rooms, the main theme seems to reproduce itself endlessly, each time with a different configuration. It’s one body with separate parts, each of them a story of woman, chicken, and eggs. Despite the cold isolation of limbs, as if a 3D computer graphic had been transformed into a physical, surreal landscape, the interaction with each part is compelling, absorbing, disorienting.
Baskets are everywhere, even hung on the ceiling, mostly empty, gracious, useless, decorative. I wonder about baskets, they might be the core of the site. They might be the artist’s offering, silent mask of her personal self. Just filled with life. She can be in a basket, and be contained. She, and all of us, only believe we lead our journey. The eggs made us, the basket transports us to the end of days and our stories with us, until we disappear and the stories remain, as in the Maori legendary tales. My brain is pulsing, just a fleeting moment. Something new fills Trulee Hall’s space, it could be that it makes me think. For an artwork of these days, a rare trove.
Viktor Sklovskji of 1976 helps me to keep my distance from intellectual temptations about art. Trulee Hall is my present antidote.
“Oh yes. Another of those intellectual passions — new perception, new ways of displaying, and you go on dreaming that reality will change. In 1916 we invented a poetic practice centered on estrangement. I was personally so involved that much later I wrote about art pretending art is not an object, nor a material; it is pure form, arithmetic relationships. I wrote it with passion, but I was wrong. Art is pulsing thinking. We just produce a parallel imaginary reality in which, as Albert Einstein said, ‘We transfer the center of gravity of our spiritual life to find a peace that does not happen in the storm of life.’”
THE OTHER AND OTHERWISE A fictional conversation between Emmanuel Levinas, Trulee Hall, Plato, Rosanna Albertini
EL “Otherwise than Being!” To be human very simply means that we live as if we were not beings among beings.” “You forget – Emmanuel Levinas continues – that you began somewhere when your existence started. Your being alive, on earth, is not disembodied.”
PLATO, untouched by idealism: “Humans are bipeds without wings.”
RA And here the artist invites us into an enchanted palace where both bipeds, with wings and without, share the eternal ritual of giving birth, producing eggs and being stupefied in front of the sexual essence of every body. The immaculate conception is such a beautiful fable, je vous salut Godard!
TH What happens in my sculptures? Legs and feet are fragile, the bust has been reshaped by thousand years of history. Altered like the mountain excavated in their veins and with limbs mutilated by cannonballs, bullets, hurricanes and diseases, rebuilt out of remains. Still, personality and energy swirl around the body revealing their physical movement. They have colors and shapes.
“The other” of my piece is female. She is a double her: the one we think and the one we see, the one I belong to in my body, and the one who happens in my brain. A computer image along with her technically generated other, a clay mate.
RA Are you saying that we forget we are animals among animals? Content to carry a brain prisoner of a box, an object easily seduced by the book of faces and links without roots? It’s true that your chickens also have their double.
TH It’s hard to see ourselves as human animals. We get lost in our head.
EL I am actually filled with my materiality, she makes who I am. Not true that spirit and mind fall into the body to become prisoner of a deadly box. My freedom grows and expands through and out of my physical life.
As I write about the whole body of this palace of wonders I realize that names are not included, except, maybe, as eggs of multiple names. Moving between small rooms with no doors or ceilings, walls that are paintings and paintings that are walls for video images, clouds under the ceiling tickled by a population of swaying baskets, islands of colors keeping paintings, floor and walls together in the same atmosphere, I don’t have any doubt, this is not a place for pure forms, or intellectual distinctions. It’s an art piece giving a body to real feelings of our time, about the female figure in her entire natural power, stripped from propaganda of any kind. The artistic effort and accomplishment are monumental.
TRULEE HALL, Side By Side By Suggestion, single channel excerpt from a 2 channel video in an immersive installation. First shown at Gamble House in 2016, and in 2019 at Maccarone Gallery Los Angeles. Courtesy of the artist and Maccarone Gallery.
Trulee Hall builds a monument for the female beast, turning beauty and the beast (the old story) upside down. The male was a cursed monster, the female a model of beauty, patience, and devotion. Female existence in Trulee’s art seems to be extricated from cultural stereotypes and brought back to a sweet common destiny: to be a vase for eggs. No different from a chicken for the same purpose. In one of her fantasy video stories a chicken is asked to understand if the ear of corn offered to her is edible or not. The chicken’s eye looks like a piece of glass, petrified in a dilemma. John Baldessari did the same teaching a plant the alphabet.
A hand made fairy tale. Surprising, disorienting like a forest with many trails. We don’t know where they go. Being more and more under the spell of looking at art in museums or museum like galleries, we are driven to thinking that space and objects in it are the point. Here instead, obsessive variations around the same theme connect every part of the installation with an impeccable logic structure. Threads are invisible. No directions. One has to perceive the invisible connective texture.
Oh, Simone Forti’s freedom in letting her body talk to the place! With her in mind I follow my body, ignoring where I am. But at every corner, in front of every call for attention, I realize that each stop is time, the time of a face to face with the organs of a scattered female body. Not the kind of time that doesn’t belong to anybody, the banality of proximity, nor time measured by the hands of the watch. Nope, it is the face to face with my own physicality displayed in front of me: funny, playful, ridiculous. Curious as a child who discovers her own flesh, I don’t blush. It’s an orchestra, and I’m part of it.
A choreography for the same forms: woman, chicken, egg, holes, rooms for living mutate into different entities. Dots on the fabric fly toward the ceiling as white snow flakes, expand in the clouds, solidify in eggs. Between forms, no need of words. Conversation is only visual. The spiraling forms could be snakes, roots, or nothing determined, like a trace of energy in the air. In some cases, their end blooms with an ear of corn. Sexuality and fantasy aren’t separate. Which makes harder the task to mention them, or to identify them with only one single name. It all depends on the way our imagination works.
Perhaps, once more, words are getting separate from things, disconnecting from books, and similitudes are reinstated between forms, from one to another image. The difference with the ages preceding printed books is the man made nature of contemporary images. We read the outcomes of human labor. We read for instance Trulee Hall’s visual statements. Only my passion for writing convince me to put words on them. A group of birds drawing their flight in the sky would be more appropriate. Whether the artist is aware or not of these many implications of her art, is not something I know.
Courtesy of the artist and Maccarone Gallery
A celebration of giving birth. Female breasts expanded into golden ears of corn? Not only that, entire bodies of many women are sculpted, almost encrusted in the thick, golden wall at the entrance. Surprising, shiny and painful. To step into the round hole between two active breasts spreading a small, white fountain of milk, opens a hole in my stomach as if I were bringing my present body into the birth space I knew well when I brought my daughter to the light. Like then, I feel my animal nature taking over any other part of me; no identity card, just a female beast.
Viktor Sklovskji, Theory of Prose. Translation Benjamin Sher, Elmwood Park, Ill. Dalkey Archive press, 1990
Emmanuel Levinas, Le Temps et l’Autre, QUADRIGE/PUF, @ Fata Morgana, 1979
Emmanuel Levinas, Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence, Published the first time in 1974. Translated into English by Alphonso Lingis, Springer, Dordrecht, 1991
Simone Forti, Thinking with the Body, Edited by Sabine Breitwieser for the Museum der Modern, Salzburg, Hirmer, 2014
A.W Reed, Maory Myths & Legendary Tales, New Holland Publishers (NZ), 1999