Public Gallery is pleased to present Now I am a lake, a group exhibition curated by New York based artist Rose Nestler.
“Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.”
- Sylvia Plath, excerpt from Mirror (1961)
In this poem, Plath’s mirror takes the form of a shiny and exacting truth-teller, reflecting back the image of her aging face each day, swallowing her youth in its watery mouth. The everyday act of looking into reflective surfaces to check oneself is age-old and matter of course. Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities (1972) documents a city named Valdrada, built so high above a lake that the inhabitants exist simultaneously with their reflection: “nothing exists or happens in the one Valdrada that the other Valdrada does not repeat.” The characters cannot lose themselves – even in their most depraved acts. Technology has enhanced our self-awareness – we stare into our phone, a screen that is at once a Valdrada and an echo chamber. Never before have we been so obsessed with our reflection and the images we leave behind.
For this presentation Nestler unites a diverse range of media, from formal representations of mirroring that traverse the visual language of reflection and symmetry, to more abstract points of view: discombobulated bodies, twins, two flowers admiring one another, reproductions of masterpieces on found objects, a bleach-dyed towel taking the form of a swan, a sexually-transmitted virus encased within a puddle of resin and abstracted mirrors illustrating the color filled abyss of imagination itself.
Narcissus in all of his drowning self admiration is used as a cautionary tale against the dark shadows of vanity. But there is resistance found in seeing oneself if unbound from the chains of morality and politeness; a joyful power in standing out, getting dressed and performing oneself. The works included all carry the literal and metaphorical ins and outs of living amongst a world of reflective surfaces confronting our mortality and exploring its depths.
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