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Phonetic corruptions underpin Benjamin Turner’s current exhibition at Central Park. Beginning in a hallway leading to the gallery’s fire escape, an obliquely cut bed frame hovers next to a set of art-brut-style painted eyelashes. From the floor, black vinyl letters spell out “TWAT-PTCHSS” as they dribble up the wall. Like the percussive logic of his text, Turner’s assemblages might be thought of as routine objects syntactically stewed. Tame objects are made conspicuous by their restraints; fragments of everyday living bound and silenced by some dirty nylon rope. A red light softly pulses.
In Central Park’s darkened main space—a small, emptied downtown office—hangs Opinel (2016), a custom-built light box. Shot in a modern kitchen, the backlit image shows a hand model holding up a polished white egg in final judgment above an assortment of clear-bowled vegetables. The still photo exists here in only partial stasis. One by one, a quiet assembly of colored LED lights bonks on and off from behind the image; a rainbow spiral adds a cheerless motion. These scuttling lights create a durational experience of a photograph that breaks its own stillness again and again: look here; look here.
Turner’s works feel thick with imprisonment. The small photographs of darkened car headlights in Leather Watch 1 and 2 (2016) appear surgically isolated from their automotive bodies. Opinel’s cooking-show vitality is in fact a paralyzed still life pranked by its own interior light show — a neon sign blinking over a dead restaurant. The harsh poetics of TWAT-PTCHSS (2016) prompts a glimpse of the guttural and sibilant interior spaces of his assemblages, and of a possible world where one might be able to hear sculptures speak (or at least mumble). His texts and objects peek into the reverberant space of a poet’s “skull mouth ears triumvirate” (1) and leave us straining to hear more.
(1) Andrew Choate, Language Makes Plastic of the Body, Palm Press, 2006.
Benjamin Turner: Phaidon Worried runs from March 11 – April 1, 2016 at Central Park (412 W 6th St #615, Los Angeles, CA 90014)