Deep bass fills the room in Reza Monahan’s Grimm’s Aged Pill at Monte Vista Projects. The sound is continuously humming, thumping, roaring, but never audaciously loud or obnoxiously overwhelming. The oscillating sonic wave is felt by the body but not in the bones. On the far wall, the projected screen plays photographic urban landscapes — recognizable New York boroughs made somewhat indiscernible — cutting from one scene to the next, interspersed with solid colors or blanks, mashed up with smaller illustrated images in a picture-in-picture overlay. Beyond the geographical familiarity, the narrative remains impalpable.
The space is modestly dark. Dimmed spotlights cast an inconspicuous amount of light on serial wall sculptures made of water-jet-cut marble slabs encircled with fiery orange or cool blue white neon lights. Unlike minimalist fluorescent tubes or conceptual neon texts, Monahan’s lights are superficial in their function, forming artificial halos around the cold marbles. In turn, his light sculptures appear to have been excavated from a bustling sci-fi ghetto or decimated Las Vegas Strip. However lurid, they are undoubtedly desirable and tantalizingly sexy.
Laser has etched each marble’s slick surface with a dialogue — like Moses on Mount Sinai carving ten commandments onto stones but with precise kerning, accurate tracking, and correct leading. Several characters converse, among them a serial killer. An attempt to use one or more of these dialogues to narrate the moving image on the wall brings no satisfaction. There is an immediate, intuitive sense that these are interconnected. Deciphering their exact relationship, however, proves to be a tall order.
No matter, simply basking in Monahan’s light and sound is as immersive and rewarding as decoding the incoherent narrative.
Reza Monahan’s Grimm’s Aged Pill is on view at Monte Vista Projects until August 23, 2015. It’s a GO-GET-LOST.
All images courtesy of artist.