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Savannah Morning News - January 26, 2003

By Allison Hersh
Savannah Morning News

"La Longue Duree," a mixed-media installation on display at the Savannah College of Art and Design's Pinnacle Gallery, reflects New York artist Babs Reingold's ongoing fascination with what she calls "the topographical life of all objects." Using diaphanous panels of silk organza that have been artfully stained with rust and tea, Reingold evokes the fragility and ephemerality of human skin.

The title of the installation refers to life itself. "What is living but a 'long moment,' our selves protected by flimsy covering, often pierced, often transparent, yet enduring and even though scarred and marked by time, still beautiful," she explains. "Beneath the covering are layers, truths, most hidden yet revealed now and then, epiphanies coming in glimmers of light, only to fade and be replaced with new illuminations before all is dark."

This meditative installation centers around five billowing columns of silk organza, each of which hangs delicately from the ceiling of the gallery. The richly textured organza panels have been adorned with sensual, organic patterns that are alternately geometric, mottled, swirling, dappled or rippling.

The golden, fleshy hues of the organza have been self-consciously designed to simulate the color of human skin. Within these fabric cocoons, Reingold has suspended bare light bulbs that go on and off at seemingly random intervals, along with bags of human hair and squares of stiff French rag weave paper that has been stitched, stained and adorned with encaustic designs.

Piles of human hair, collected from various salons, have been scattered on the floor beneath each of the fabric columns, reflecting Reingold's ongoing fascination with unconventional material. The artist explains that she is intrigued by the "attraction/repulsion of hair," and how hair can be seen as beautiful in one context and grotesque in another.

The effect of the light bulbs switching on and off has a hypnotic effect on the viewer, engaging the audience in a silent dialogue of illumination and concealment. As each bulb flashes on, it transforms each column of fabric into a shimmering, translucent scrim revealing a complex arrangement of symbols, forms and gestures in a fleeting moment of light.

"La Langue Duree" forces a hesitation on the part of the viewer, a moment of suspense in which one is curious to see which lights will flash on and off and what, exactly, the light will reveal. At dusk, the columns seem to come alive, casting eerie shadows on the ceiling of the gallery and radiating with a golden, flesh-like presence.

The columns and panels of fabric shimmy and rustle as viewers pass by them, creating an interactive, biological dialogue between the audience and the work itself. "Movement speaks to time and life and the fact that things are always changing," Reingold says.

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Reingold grew up in Barbados, Dallas and Cleveland as the daughter of a commercial sewing machine specialist. She has a B.F.A. in Graphic Design from the Cleveland Institute of Art and an M.F.A. in Painting from SUNY-Buffalo.

In recent years, Reingold has been awarded two prizes from Whitney curator Barbara Haskell and has work on permanent display at the Newark Museum. Last year, she exhibited her "Intimate Apparel" exhibit at the Lowe Gallery in Atlanta.

Although she is an accomplished painter, Reingold very rarely works with conventional materials like oil or acrylic paint. Since 1994, she has experimented with her own innovative dying methods, "based on a number of years of fooling around with rust and tea and salt, using various objects to make the marks."

She is perhaps best known for installations like "Baggage," which features hand-stitched bags of hair, revealing her ongoing fascination with the human body and with transforming ordinary material into defamiliarized objects.

Reingold's work is featured in galleries in Atlanta and Buffalo and will be the focus of an exhibit at the Jersey City Museum in Jersey City, N.J., this summer and a show at the New Jersey Center for Visual Arts in 2004.

Since 2000, she has lived on Tybee Island for part of the year, while maintaining a permanent residence in New Jersey. Attracted to Savannah's warmer climate, natural beauty and growing art scene, Reingold says she enjoys living and working on Tybee.

"La Langue Duree" marks the first time she has exhibited her work in the Savannah area.

 

The title of the installation refers to life itself.

-Savannah Morning News


This meditative installation centers around five billowing columns of silk organza, each of which hangs delicately from the ceiling of the gallery.

-Savannah Morning News

The golden, fleshy hues of the organza have been self-consciously designed to simulate the color of human skin.

-Savannah Morning News

IF YOU GO

What: "La Longue Duree," a mixed-media installation by Babs Reingold

When: through March 3; Artist's Reception featured as part of the Savannah College of Art and Design Gallery Hop on from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 6

Where: Pinnacle Gallery, 320 E. Liberty St.

For more information: 525-4950