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Shadowplay by Hans Peter Feldmann

Wonderfully simple and elegant, the installation called “Shadowplay” by Hans Peter Feldmann was one of the highlights of the opening shows for the Fall 2009 season in New York City. This work was originally shown at the 2009 Venice Biennale, in ” Fare Mundi” curated by Daniel Birnbaum.

There are a number of aspects to this piece that makes the work so successful. Firstly, it is light, literally. Intensive spotlights are pointed at a square piece of cardboard mounted with found objects: a gun, Bambi, the Statue of Liberty, Barbie, a palm tree, a sailboat, a helicopter, a Tyrannosaurus rex, a Mexican rooster, and other familiar chachkas. The cardboard rotates on a turntable. The light acts like a lens, and the intensity of the light, and the small distance between the objects creates an interesting depth-of-field effect in shadows on the scrim covered wall.

Secondly, the cheapness, and sense of spontaneity given the choice of construction materials. Found objects, slapped-together tables and lighting fixures gives the impression that the work was built with little thought, an artist savant.

And finally the tension between the light, the rotating objects, and the shadows that makes one wonder what exactly makes the work complete? The sign warning “Hot Lampshades Don’t Touch”. Is it really finished or a work in progress? Junk left on the table unnecessarily: empty glasses, rubber band, discarded backing for double sided tape, work gloves, wood, foam. Yet there is formality, proportion of the room, the length of the table, the no-man’s land between the table and the scrim.

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