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“...and five, six, seven, eight.”
Anticipating action upon hearing the rising count of “…and five, six seven, eight.” This prompt of movement carries with it pop cultural content, encapsulating the agony and ecstasy of individual and group effort and artistic expression and all that jazz. Presenting figures of utility as performative narration in the title sets the stage for the lighted mirrors and archetypal doors of the show that are symbolic beyond their practical use and have a fictionalized prop-like quality. They act as stand-ins for public life and cultural practices, and prompt a reckoning of self through common trope cues – doors and mirrors being potent and enduring metaphors in art, film, theater, and literature.
Like the showbiz title of the show, “What is behind door number _?” (an old game show refrain of chance fortunes), could act as a subtitle for the series of doors in the show. Each of the three doors is made of hanging threads (scrim- like and sized to the mind and not the body) and is presented and spaced so the viewer makes a viewing choice within the gallery, to physically step forward one at a time. One painting is in the composition of a swinging bistro kitchen door, complete with a silver kick plate and a bright portal window (a legible arrangement of floating abstract shapes) conjuring an illuminated space beyond the wall while also summoning feelings of dining out nostalgia. The other two doors are patterned on recognizable vernacular types – a generic wooden panel door, and a front entry with genteel colonial American styling (often found in down market properties). To some measure, they are meant to act as shorthand summarizing the moment of their making, when public life is mostly deferred and we are limited to domestic spaces, and America’s future and vision of itself are uncertain.
The choice of doors and mirrors for the show goes beyond their ongoing symbolism and also acknowledges their continued function in everyday life despite the many other technologies that have radically altered current culture. The mirror is an ancient invention that speaks to thousands of years of human self-regard, a tool for contemplation, reckoning, and grooming. Despite all the changes and technological advancements, the mirror remains an essential element for transforming our animal selves into something more transcendent. What would our culture be without mirrors?
Much like the door patterns, my interest in the specific composition of the lighted backstage mirror was how its geometric abstraction added up to a recognizable cultural object. It conjures cultural moments from The Muppet Show to Showgirls. Each element of the mirror motif can be compartmentalized within and I approached the painting as if they were choreographed Busby Berkeley showstoppers with a chorus of synchronized and flamboyant forms on the periphery of a reserved center space where the lead performers will eventually enter, in this case, the “mirror” rectangle section where the viewer would normally see themselves. The center color field becomes an abstract avatar, it does not reflect the viewer in a direct and conventional way but instead offers the apparatus of self-contemplation, the scenario, the symbolic. Each painting offers a different type, much like the doors, they have different personalities, one may be more or less appealing to any given viewer than another. The scale is larger than life in order to encompass the viewer fully. Each bulb is a stylized depiction of perpetual energy made through my creative energy, and it is my hope that this transfers to visitors of the show.
Dianna Molzan, February 2021
Dianna Molzan (b. 1972, Tacoma) lives and works in Los Angeles. Molzan’s work has been exhibited internationally in museum exhibitions at ICA Boston (2019, 2012); MoMA, New York (2014); SFMOMA, San Francisco (2016); and the Whitney Museum of American Art (2011), New York among others. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; ICA Boston, Boston; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis; University of Chicago, Chicago; Rubell Family Collection, Miami; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, among others.