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Image, IR No.21; Max Goldfarb

Incident No. 21: MS Found in a Bottle, Lucy Raven / Ryan Harden Brown


If it at first appears as a one-line conceptual trick, MS Found in a Bottle is an installation that bears further consideration. The project is a useful device to steer one’s focus towards a larger context. The work poses questions of where the abstraction of art and the street really meet, tethering its intellectual details to larger, shared crises.

Found explodes the scale of a bottle recycling label onto the windows of a storefront. The inward reversal of the letters (and their shadows) describes the physicality of the open volume behind the glass, flattening a stage of inhabitance into a frontal idea. The resulting physical displacement is parallel to a theatrical event of collapsing time between two crashing markets and their inward traveling wake: These coinciding, unseen presences pile up into the meaning floating both on the glass and out over the town itself: A nickel had no longer carried meaning outside of a 5-cent return...

The delivery of the message supplants the specifics of the space with an immediate transformation of retail architecture into a recyclable vessel. A duplicate of the message in reverse begins to articulate to the pedestrian, a temporal regression stemming from the choice of nostalgic, Depression font. 
Consequently, the doubled reading affords us access to the experience of viewing the outside (world) as seen from our position inside this distorted void-space of an historic storefront. We become the occupants of a space of loss in the context of commerce.

The simplicity of the project –the text painted directly on the glass leaving the volume behind empty- exploits the force of mirrors to gather immediate surroundings by making physical conditions of reflections lay over the text and vice/versa. The mirroring effect of the glass plays games with potential readings: The lettering is an emblem of the space (the label of the work), and it is super-imposed onto the image of the opposing lot. The real becomes an image as the conceptual blends into the everyday. This effect insinuates into the interior worlds of engaged passers-by: the unplanned encounter with critical thinking is the fundamental operation of Incident Report. 

As an exhibition platform, Incident Report is a mirage.


Image: detail, IR No.21; Ryan Harden Brown


Image: Nivers, Hudson; Max Goldfarb


Image: Photograph of New York City subway rider, Walker Evans