ANNE COLVIN: FOTO-GRAA FIK; MICHAEL MARTIN GALLERY
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA


Anne Colvin, from the series “Skin,” c-print

Taking on a cosmic life of their own, behind a super high gloss reflective finish, Anne Colvin’s figures are silhouetted against a brazen blare of light. Upon entering the Foto-graafik show, one is confronted with six photos from the series “Skin”, each 16” x 20” hung three in a row atop of three in a row thus creating a grid. This grid appears larger than it is, awash in a pink that works more as light rather than a color. The figures, one to a photo, are exposed torsos. While there is barely a hint of extremities to enable probing and exploring, the torso owns its own identity; no need for a head. And with an accentuated hip curve and the suggestion of an arm’s swing, one senses a very heavy, slow, methodical and meditative back and forth rock.
These silhouettes lie somewhere between Nicola Tyson’s investigating and rebirthing morphemic figures and a cool ‘60s Bond coquette from one of Robert Brownjohn’s film title sequences. Set in pause from the rhythms of her environment, the figures are in the midst of being Surreal or supra bodies. If the moment were set into motion, the torso would be continually pumping, grinding, swishing, or swaying. The repetition of rhythm, merely and necessarily beating and ticking, is a warp-funnel of infinite time that surrounds the figure and runs forever backwards and forwards. The environment feels secure in its continuity and steadiness, almost spiritual. Stripped bare of clothing or an affecting material environment the torso, solo, is experiencing its essence; being and owning.
Stay with the work a while longer and its subtle quiet side evades being missed. A first impression renders the customary focal-point-within-its-background; a figure dancing within the light. But the light is actually its own life force. In uniform hues of dark brown or black, the figures contrast their environment of swirling pink light. Like an image burnt into one’s retina, the black silhouetted torso is impressed into the glowing pulsating aura of blasted unnatural hot pink and red. The light’s intensity, an on pour of screaming molten liquid, seems impossible to turn off. One wonders: Are neons even really colors or just hues of a light force?
It is the figures that are lifeless while the light bumps and grinds. The browns and blacks of the figures are thin, flat, and vaporless. The light is undulating and gyroistic, cosmically oozy. The figures are more of an impressing burnt memory, perhaps their fate is to eventually fade. In addition to the background, is an extra strip of pink light that follows the counters of the body. This strip of light could be some sort of afterglow or aura emitting from the body. But the figures are so vacant, it seems rather that this hugging band is the light’s own doing, a way to keep the body separated from the swirling environment. While the delineation visually separates, one can not help but imagine that in the next moment, the light may surround, enrapt, and blot out the impressing silhouette.
There seems to be a push pull play on determining the focus of essence—figures or light. While the torso is a location point for any being’s heart, it is the light that takes up a soul. It seems the light would carry on, whether the figure existed or not. Over powered by the pink force, the figures, even in a power stance of legs apart, end up going only so far. Acting as a paper doll prop, they provide a reference point, so that a picture of the light that is encroaching from behind may be taken. Perhaps this push play provides a certain amount of content; that life-force (universe) existed before and without us, and will exist after us. Essence itself incurs power, lust, and grace; it spirals, repeats, and expands; and rolls into lofty sublime: neither nor.

Karen Kersten
Oakland, California
2000