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In her newest solo exhibition, Jennifer Bolande’s newsprint elegies quietly expand into a meditation on the porous boundaries of media, context, and perception. The wall-sized video work, The Composition of Decomposition (2018), opens with two adjacent black rectangles that form a single stereoscopic image. Over the next hour, dark ambient music plays as pairs of indiscriminate clippings from the New York Times slowly crossfade within the two frames. Because Bolande cuts and pairs these clippings without any reference to editorial layout, the text and image fracture into incoherent snippets of advertisements, sports, global politics, war, and fine art. While some fragments seem meaningfully paired—at one point a colonnade in a Louis Vuitton advertisement appears next to guarded Afghani ruins—Bolande’s arbitrary frame destabilizes the viewer’s desire to read between the lines. As the video continues, coherence decomposes, leaving viewers to confront the desire for meaning that news media both shapes and obscures.
Elsewhere, Bolande further curtails the meaning of the text and image, privileging and abstracting the materiality of papers. In her Image Tomb (2014) series, the artist cuts into small stacks of newspapers, revealing buried images that evoke an accumulating passage of time. News Column (2017), an 8-foot tall resin cast of stacked newspapers, recalls Brancusi’s Endless Column, if it were flattened into an unreadable memorial.
In other works, Bolande grounds her concerns with media in natural light and landscape. Her Bulletin Board (2017) series, photographs of framed images of empty university porticos, draw attention to atmospheres captured in time. The slatted portico light within the framed photograph, the afternoon light washing over the glass surface of the bulletin board, and the diffused light of the gallery all blur into an indistinct wash of blue and green. In a way, this diffusion runs through the whole show, and viewers learn to see as Bolande does: the composing powers of media come to the foreground and dissolve, leaving behind the human desire for coherence, which the passage of time washes away.
Jennifer Bolande: The Composition of Decomposition runs from October 26–February 17, 2019 at Pio Pico (3311 E. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90023).