The Middle Distance
For her first solo exhibition at sixspace, The Middle Distance, Wendy Heldmann presents new series of paintings, works-on-paper, and video. The Middle Distance relates directly to a space found somewhere between the foreground and background but it also connotes the idea of compromise or neutrality (middle ground) between two positions. The paintings presented in this show fuse the rival subjects of the inherent danger and beauty of natural environments, the eerie calm and destruction after the 1964 Alaska earthquake, and the potential of muddled heaps of junk, while literally depicting the space between here and there.
The Middle Distance features three related series: earthquake, Elysium, and a single 12-minute video. Heldmann's earthquake series represent what happens when nature and man collide yet neither one is fully on the winning side. These images, derived from slides taken by her in-law grandparents after the 1964 earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska, are more of a reflection of the futility of human intervention in catastrophic situations rather than a literal depiction. The Elysium series (taken from photos of Los Angeles' Elysian Park) evolved from the name referencing "a designation of a place or person struck by lightening and is also the name of the resting place for souls of the heroic and the virtuous." She is interested in how this word transforms and relates directly to irony of the potential of finding pockets of deep wilderness in the urban park for which it is named. Her video depicts the tension between structure and content that winds up producing a disorienting sensation related to divergent locations where it was filmed. Homemade scores utilizes phase shifting whereby layering creates and emphasizes abstraction, echoing the discordance of a dream-like state, while additional sourced or real time sounds ground the work in realism.
Heldmann sorts through images and videos (generally of natural environments and landscapes) by considering different configurations of structured elements and assembling the experience of a place. With translated imagery from photographs and videos taken from walks, pictures, traveling, and experiences, she fragments the depiction of a place so that the pieces become part memory, part imaging, and part copying/doubling. The titles for her work are hybrids of prose and poetry - her earthquake pieces in particular are influenced by the writing of Lorrie Moore, Zbigniew Herbert, and the documentation of the winding down of a relationship between two people that eventually falls apart.
Wendy Heldmann received her MA in Visual Arts with distinction at Goldsmith's College, University of London, England (2001) and her BFA at the San Francisco Art Institute (1999) after studying civil engineering at Cornell University and the TUHH in Germany. Heldmann's work has been exhibited nationally as well as in London and Mumbai. Recent exhibitions include Plainer: A Contemporary Take on Landscape at the Torrance Art Museum and There Goes the Neighborhood at sixspace. Her work has been featured in McSweeney's Issue 20, Lemonade Magazine, Black Warrior Review (cover), and on the cover of Joseph Massey's poetry book "Property Line." Wendy Heldmann currently lives and works in Los Angeles where she teaches drawing and coordinates the public programs at The Southern California Institute of Architecture.
The website will be permanently closed shortly, so please retrieve any content you wish to save.