TROUBLE LIGHTMetropolitan Structures, 2016
Silver gelatin prints, plywood, trouble lights, wax light bulbs, 60-watt light bulb,
5-gallon water jug, 24-page booklet, NOWORK 2010-2014 catalog, steel bicycle hook, steel pins
Each panel 24x48 inches, each print 8x12 inches, overall dimensions variable
Trouble Light was an installation conceived for Metropolitan Structures, a vacated apartment serving as an exhibition venue within a Mies van der Rohe residential building in Baltimore. Two adjoining horizontal windows, spanning the full width of the living area, dominated the space. Oriented west, this panoramic aperture allowed the late-afternoon sun to flood the apartment with direct, blinding light. We decided to interrupt the dramatic pull to the outside that the windows exerted over the visitor upon entering the unit.
We made a series of monochrome silver gelatin prints based on the gray slides left in the final iteration of the slideshow from The Elder. All imagery was omitted, save for a portrait of Pierre’s father, his face obscured by a black circle. This redaction, a black hole obscuring his identity, carried an intimation of violence pointing back to his death by suicide — an act of self-erasure that echoed the artist’s jettisoned portfolio. Some of the monochromes were inscribed with quotes taken from our exchange with the artist, whose words infused a narrative inflected with regret and loss into the otherwise muted presentation.
These prints were pinned to horizontal panels, suggesting signage but void of information, placed to work against the architecture. By obstructing sight lines and redirecting the viewer’s movement through the space, the panels attempted to embody the blind spots inherent in maintaining a linear narrative of modernity based around order and rationality. Against this backdrop, we intended the monochromes to function as spaces for projection, personal recollection, and recovery.
On the back wall, hanging from a panel near the window, a portable work lamp — the kind used by auto mechanics, known as a trouble light — emitted a faint yellow glow that became the room’s only source of light after dusk. Across the room, two other trouble lights lay on the floor, exhausted or dead, their bulbs replaced by a facsimile cast in wax.
Accompanying the exhibition was a booklet containing a text that described each photograph in The Elder. In this way the absent imagery could be envisioned and maintained a ghostly presence, an inverse or negative within the exhibition. Elsewhere a 5-gallon jug of water rested on the floor, evoking a dormant body of bottled up potential, recasting the empty jug used in The Elder.