March 9 - April 22, 2017
Lennon, Weinberg, Inc. 514 West 25 Street, New York, NY 10001
Robin Hill, “There Was” a video by Carol Saft
In no particular order: making, finding, choosing, examining, and organizing are the fundamental activities that orient the work of Robin Hill. She has always identified as a sculptor, traditionally an artist who makes objects, but over time has embraced an approach that asserts equivalence between what she makes and what already exists.
A 2004 solo exhibition, Multiplying the Variations, featured works in which Hill organized numerous handmade elements in one way or another. For example, Concretion is composed of one hundred plaster casts, stacked horizontally; a related work had a hundred similarly shaped elements of wax on wood, organized into a ten-by-ten grid on the wall.
The exhibition also included Beach Debris, an installation incorporating objects that the artist found, rather than made, in a newly purposeful way. The work revolved around rusted metal stove parts found on the beach near her Cape Breton home. In addition to a series of cyanotypes made by placing the items on light-sensitized paper, the collection itself was part of the installation. She had long used found or ready-made forms in her cyanotypes—for example orange peels, plastic grocery bags or full-scale trees—but including the found objects themselves in the installation became a new aspect of her work.
Mica Fiche was included in Case Discussions, Hill’s exhibition at Lennon, Weinberg in 2011. A tiny, translucent mica washer was placed in a microfiche reader, a now obsolete device used to magnify and project microfilm of printed texts. The enlarged image of the washer resembles an eye, seemingly gazing at the viewer. She did nothing but place two elements in relation to each other, and found a new way to express an appreciation of what it means to look at something.
In the current exhibition, There Was, there are a number of new things Hill wants viewers to see. One is a charred wooden chair. Another is an abandoned house in the process of collapsing in on itself, recorded in a monumental cyanotype. Thought Bubbles, presented as archival digital prints, are serendipitous accumulations or juxtapositions of materials that interested her. Short phrases clipped from The New York Times became found poetry: “inferred from subtle changes,” “unravel the circumstances,” “while in motion,” “caught between two worlds,” “under the rosiest assumptions,” and “I see it every day,” are among the phrases that populate Weighing Papers.
Two works in the exhibition follow directly from Beach Debris. Among the categories of things Hill collects are sea bricks and concretions. Sea bricks are exactly what they sound like—ruddy, red-clay building blocks worn, eroded and rounded by water, sand and time. They lose their manufactured rectilinearity under the forces of nature, eventually taking on the form of rocks and pebbles. Concretions are geological oddities, round and hard, millions of years old, created in a complex process of organic decay and mineralization in the sedimentary layers of ancient oceans. Now and again, they drop from the oceanfront clifs, and Robin Hill has been assiduously harvesting these stones from her beach for decades.
In determining the form of these two new installations, Cairn and Concretions, Hill turned to friend and designer Ulla Warchol, who sourced used lumber and constructed supports for the collections of sea bricks and concretions. They have been placed on raw planks atop sawhorses; these supports are not mere pedestals but integral parts of the realized sculptures. Hill offers these found, studied, and chosen objects to us, as on an altar, as touchstones for an awareness of time, process, material, art making and the pure experience of experience itself.
Jill Weinberg Adams New York, February 2017