With your year long Carla subscription, you will receive a new issue right to your doorstep every 3 months.
Our advertising program is essential to the ecology of our publication. Ad fees go directly to paying writers, which we do according to W.A.G.E. standards.
We are currently printing runs of 6,000 every three months. Our publication is distributed locally through galleries and art related businesses, providing a direct outlet to reaching a specific demographic with art related interests and concerns.
To advertise or for more information on rates, deadlines, and production specifications, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
At the start of Kenturah Davis’ exhibition Dark Illumination, a shadowy figure writes text behind a transparent pane. Coming in and out of focus, the figure teases viewers with vestiges of its presence, scribbling illegible words that slowly form images of two additional figures, both of whom evade the viewer’s gaze, behaving as mysteriously as their creator. It’s no coincidence that it is Davis’ shadow composing the figures depicted in the side by side video installations Fall and Recover – Dunham (2021) and Embodiment I (moving study) (2020). While we are often taught to see shadows as inanimate counterparts to light, Dark Illumination regards the shadow itself as a creative agent, shaping the worlds that we perceive.
The culmination of Davis’ residency at Occidental College, Dark Illumination draws inspiration from Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s canonical essay “In Praise of Shadows” (1933), which mourns the loss of traditional Japanese aesthetics to westernization. Central to this loss is an appreciation for shadows, which Tanizaki argues impart beauty and depth to experiences both visual and existential. Impressions of Tanizaki’s sentiments live on in Davis’ work, where shadows do not impede but instead facilitate revelations.
In the multimedia installation dark illumination I (2023), a collection of tan vessels rest in wall cutouts and on shelves, accompanied by sand-colored shadows that lend a mysterious depth to each work. Beneath a projected spotlight, a ceramic vase filled with eucalyptus and palm leaves takes on unforeseen animacy as its shadow sways. On the other end of the wall, a wooden Rubin’s vase sits in an inset box, illuminated from behind by white light. Enveloping the vase’s silhouette, the white light forms an image of two faces, creating an optical illusion in which the vase and its brightly-lit surroundings contend for prominence. And in between these two vases, an indecipherable cluster of ceramic fragments hangs from the gallery’s wall, casting a shadow that forms the words “dark illumination,” unifying an installation in which negative space is integral to shaping our perceptions.
The shadow’s function evolves in planar vessel XV (2023), the exhibition’s magnum opus, where shadows come to represent not only the absence of light but the absence of absolute knowledge. Stretched across a sprawling 14.5 feet of 168 connected ceramic tiles, a figure sketched in carbon pencil is swathed in the warmth of dim lighting. From left to right, they assume four distinct forms—a rhapsodic dance, a vulnerable surrender, a piercing stare, a blurred enigma. Their multiplicity is underscored by theoretical texts embossed in small font on the tiles, revealing themselves cautiously under fleeting glints of light. References to Toni Morrison collide with texts on quantum physics while musings on the nature of time coexist alongside writings on the momentum of light. Underneath gradients of the carbon pencil sketch, the words are decidedly elusive, floating in and out of legibility. Davis’ practice of fusing language and portraiture shines in this intermixture of text and image, sweeping us up into a tidal wave of meanings that are perpetually affirmed then contested, unveiled then obscured. To view the work is to engage intimately with what cannot be known of its subject, relinquishing the confines of certainty for the expansiveness of nuance.
Insistent on revering the shadow, Dark Illumination holds lessons not only for aesthetic witnessing but for social consciousness. Presenting its viewers with subjects that transform before our eyes and text that blurs into and out of human form, the exhibition makes palpable the influence of what cannot be fully seen, defined, or understood. In doing so, it invites us to practice perception—of the world, of others, and of ourselves—as an act of humble discovery.
Kenturah Davis: Dark Illumination runs from February 9–April 29, 2023 at OXY ARTS (4757 York Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90042).