Illuminations: Varese Layzer, RKDB, Julia Shirar

Varese Layzer

RKDB Julia Shirar

opening reception for the artists March 30th, 6-9 pm
on view March 31-May 5, 2012

"Once we put our calculations aside, the inevitable descent of the sky and visiting memories and the séance of rhythms occupy the home, the head and the world of the mind.” —Arthur Rimbaud, Illuminations

Krowswork is very pleased to announce Illuminations, a three-person exhibition featuring photographs by Varese Layzer, video and installation by RKDB, and video by Julia Shirar.

For Layzer, it is a Manhattan apartment and its Upper West Side environs. In the case of RKDB it is a dilapidated Ohio Victorian. And with Shirar it is a South Texas town. The places are different, but the works presented by these three artists are connected by a very specific undertaking. They are each attempting a poetic assessment of a space/place of home for which they each must take on a responsibility following the passing of a family member.

The exhibition is titled after a 19th-century collection of poetry by Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891), Illuminations. Inherent in these poems is the integration of light as literal imagery and a symbolic goal; the same is true in these visual works where light is an important formal and philosophical component of the works. In Layzer's photographs, the light streams in from building-blocked passages and as well as from oddly arranged fixtures, expressing the conflict between the world outside and that lived within. RKDB's installation moves the viewer from an ornate flickering hallway light to the gracious sun streaming through redwoods. Shirar focuses on a the pulsing tv at a dark motel, evoking a language of both comfort and loneliness. Each of the artists is illuminating a figurative and literal dark corner, one with refreshingly candid implications.

Although approaching a difficult and personal topic, Layzer, RKDB, and Shirar eschew simple nostalgia and explore with formal vigor the energy of these respective spaces and their particular residue of memory. These artists use their art to validate the inherent complexities of a life and the place in which it was lived. And vice versa: the artists each deftly use the personal and emotional static and ambiguity that inevitably accompanies this remembering and assessing in order to create artworks that are universal memorials worthy of living itself. The work succeeds by a sophisticated metaphysical language of distance and understanding whose result is visual poetry.


Illuminations is the first of a three-show series that has been conceptualized in combination with the energy of specific literature texts. The next two exhibitions are Ficciones, after a collection of short stories by Jorge Luis Borges, the great Argentinian writer, and You Must Change Your Life, after the last line of a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke titled "Torso of an Archaic Apollo."