Jane Chang Mi has transported a beach to Adjunct Positions, a gallery nestled in a quiet residential part of Highland Park. Clean, white, fine grain sand fills the gallery floor (the room appears to be a converted single car garage) — an enclosed sandbox without children or playthings. Albeit its physical absence, water is present, as visual cues dominate the space.
On the far wall, projected sparkling lights dance perpendicular to the manufactured shore, creating a fluid vertical backdrop that morphs continuously. The depth of the water is impossible to gauge. In the dark, the reflections in the video are blindingly bright. The sun is never found, no matter the time of day, for it always sits behind the viewer. Disorienting calm fills the chamber.
The experience is mystifyingly pure, free of familiar sensations and sensory memories. The mouth does not taste the sea. Hair miraculously stays put. Skin is spared from the sun and the caressing of coarse wind. Only the shifting sand beneath the feet provides the haptic feedback that one is still standing between the high and low tides.
Throughout the exploration, the beach remains anonymous. Mi’s abstraction process has removed all relevant contexts, including the crucial piece of the puzzle necessary to make sense of the work. “What is this beach,” one ponders. “Where does it come from,” one continues. “Why is it here?” The installation offers no answer — not the sand, not the light, not the enclosure. Curiosity and wonderment amplify.
Titled 24-08-1968, Mi has originally created the video during her research travel to French Polynesia. After the revelation that it has been shot in the Tutamotu Archipelago against the historical background of the French having conducted numerous nuclear weapon tests in the region, the innocence in Mi’s work is instantly replaced with an eerie suspicion — its purity with something far more immediate and visceral.
Jane Chang Mi’s 24-08-1968 is part of her solo exhibition The Taste of Purity, which is on view at Adjunct Positions until September 12, 2015. It’s a GO-TAKE-A-WALK.
All images courtesy of artist.