by Kara Q. Smith
Because a faded Polaroid photograph of a Western American mountainous desert skyline could epitomize my distant memories and dreams…because I like Derrida, because of my grandmother’s tea…these might be the reasons I have always enjoyed the experience of Ginger Wolfe-Suarez’s work.
“Both Are True” is a constructed landscape of memory and experience where viewers must step around rocks or walk under a structure, forcing a sort of indirect interaction with the works in the space. In the case of Looking at the mountains while laying in the grass, 2010-2011, viewers must turn their heads to view the sideways-hung photograph. This slight shift of head brings to life the perceived reminiscence of lying in a bed of warm, damp grass on a sunny, pastoral day.
There is a fascinating specificity to Wolfe-Suarez’s care of materials and their presentation, from the hand-dyed yarn stretched across the corner of the gallery that has been rubbed with mint oil and vegetable glycerin to the precise placement of the mirror on Untitled, 2010. This affect matched with the activity of encountering the installation—crouching down to view the marigold and lavender piled in Within, 2010, or smelling mint essence in the corner containing Purple Color Field—creates a notion of ritual in a way that pensively reminds me of Joan Jonas’s recent work, The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things (exhibited here in the Bay Area at the Berkeley Art Museum in 2008).
Jonas uses multi-media presentations and performances to engage her and the viewers’ relationship to space, often performing versions of appropriated rituals of the American Southwest rendering the viewer an uninitiated onlooker exploring the space of screens and projections. Wolfe-Suarez has a rather opposite, minimalist approach to presenting experiences to the viewer, leaving us often with questions, like: Why mint? The corporeal qualities of the yarn: the inconsistencies in color letting us know that each strand was dyed by her hands, the floating quality of the piece when seen across the room underscore the ritualistic passage between states: it is no longer just yarn.
The most striking quality of Wolfe-Suarez’s work is her ability to transform the corner of a gallery into a controlled and stylized – yet familiar – landscape in which just certain chosen articles appear. Seemingly abstract, the appearance of these works has no limit to the interpretations each viewer performs amidst the exhibition.
- Kara Q. Smith