empathy

The Neon-Light District

Neon is the ultimate moodsetter: be it in Vegas, Time Square, or the tiny, tucked-away Reception Gallery. With her photograms, Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez is able to evoke the qualities of light, specifically neon light, in a new way—without using any. Confused? Intrigued? Join the club––or, at least, this BAPs reporter in what I like to call “The Quest for the Meaning of Light.” Stick with me; I’ll make it worth your while.

Like most good stories, this tale of photogramic intrigue begins with a harrowing journey. As a result of my stunning lack of geographic intuition, I got off the Ubahn at Kurfürstenstraße and walked in exactly the wrong direction. At this point I found myself in a veritable minefield of prostitutes and the pimps who work with them; apparently mid-afternoon on a weekday is big business in the street-based sex trade. Who knew?

Having misjudged the weather I found myself with bare legs and a fur coat walking furiously in the wrong direction, bombarded on one side by the pimps I now think of as recruiters and on the other by salacious solicitors of sex driving far too slowly for comfort. So, you can appreciate that after realizing I was headed the wrong way and facing the fact that I would be repeating my sex-charged street-walk back past Kurfürstenstraße and on to Reception, I was shattered––feelings that, coincidentally, put me in exactly the right frame of mind for Fernandez’s work. 

Destination: Reception

The dark, low-ceilinged corridor with a green floor that is Reception Gallery was a hung with a series of photograms, “photographic images made without a camera by placing objects directly onto the surface of a light-sensitive material such as photo-paper and then exposing [that paper] to light.” Color, in this case the bright abrasive primaries of early 90s photoshop and the muted greeny browns of middle american ponds, is added later.

Populating the garishly colored gradients are the images, strangely flattened like a pressed flower, of bits of broken glass and the squiggling tubes of those that remained unshattered. They read like what they are—neon shattered and in shards, floating and free-falling through a constructed landscape of color. Alongside the haunting photograms flickers a projection of dirt trapped on tape, trimmed to fit through a projector and colored in “post production.” Grainy, gritty, oddly gruesome, the projection, (reminiscent of scientific slides on loop) provides a dirty counterpart to the serenely shattered neon photograms. 

Shiny and sexy, gritty and dirty, alluring yet repulsive—the perfect combination of high and low, light and dark, Fernandez has perfectly captured the meaning of neon. The end. 

  • Reception Gallery – Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez “A leopard cannot change its spots / Sad lone scorpions can’t get a path” – March 2 – April 13th, 2013 – Thursday – Saturday: 11am-6pm [Price of work: €3000]

Article by Hannah Nelson-Teutsch