Art Seen: National

ELIZABETH DEE // GABRIELE BEVERIDGE

by Stephanie Cristello

Mystic Minimalism

Gabriele Beveridge’s exhibition, Gold Diamond Park, currently on view at Elizabeth Dee, is an important aesthetic move toward redefining minimalism in the twenty-first century. Mining all the hot tropes right now, which have since broke their way into contemporary pop culture—Health Goth in particular—Beveridge creates an environment for the moment. Pulling from sources of reproduced editorial photo-shoots, utilitarian building and storage materials, visual display merchandising techniques, new age healing objects, and athletic wear, Gold Diamond Park combines the rigorous aesthetic of athletic excellence with the soft airbrushed touch of fashion editorial. Each is met with unexpectedness atypical from the familiar objects used throughout the exhibition. Here, symbols of sentimentality are turned severe. The girlish is contemptuous; levity is given gravity.

To make reified signifiers of “female aesthetics”—accessories, decoration, beautification, and cosmetics among other symbols—seem necessary, seem minimal is an achievement worth noting. Minimalism depends on reduction, on absolute necessity, on a lessening and diminutive attitude toward embellishment, but not to detail. Details are essential. With this attention to detail comes a heightened sensitivity and reaction to all elements of the minimal object, and its surrounding space. Minimalism is not part of a fully gendered history; it is a marketable result of male production, and has been written and taught that way. In a way, the absence of a female contribution to the canonized history of minimalism, with the exception of a few artists—Agnes Martin, Anne Truitt—is one of the most reductive elements of the movement. The emptiness of a female voice in the direction of the twentieth century movement was about is as minimal as it gets: absent.

Gold Diamond Park, Gabriele Beveridge, 2014, Installation view. Courtesy the Artist and Elizabeth Dee, New York.

Gold Diamond Park, Gabriele Beveridge, 2014, Installation view.
Courtesy the Artist and Elizabeth Dee, New York

Beveridge challenges this history. Upon entering the gallery, stark white mannequins occupy the space, their bodies severed at varying lengths (torso, mid-calf, waist), placed on the floor in a scattered composition. It looks as though they are sinking into the ground, or else floating on an invisible wave, staggered on the surface of the imagined current. The mannequins are left bare. Large black rings hang from the ceiling at varying heights, suspended from the gallery ceiling by thin gold chain. There is something kinetic and seductive about the position of the faux gymnasium props—tempting you to grab a hold, or envision your suspension were you able to use your force against theirs. They hang close to the mannequins, punctuating their similarly floating quality, falling and rising on the unseen tide. Throughout the space, white plumed feathers are draped delicately against various surfaces‚ often on the paintings that hang on the adjacent walls, or resting in the palm of a stark white hand. The feathers are placed near large glass orbs, another recurring trope, as if they are a vision read out of the crystal balls.

Gold Diamond Park, Gabriele Beveridge, 2014, Installation view.  Courtesy the Artist and Elizabeth Dee, New York.

Gold Diamond Park, Gabriele Beveridge, 2014, Installation view.
Courtesy the Artist and Elizabeth Dee, New York

Gold Diamond Park is dreamy; it is a fantasy—it has all the aesthetics of a weightless world, of minimal perfection. It sells you the dream you see in advertisements. It sells you the dream you see on tumblr. It makes you feel like the perfect arrangement between athleticism and fashion is attainable. You can almost see young girls in white, pony tails pulled taught, posing against the works, placing their light fingers on the rings, but never having to apply functional pressure—never having to exert anything at all. The exhibition makes you feel like this imagination of sleekness is a part of you. Contrary to the ethos of minimalism, it makes you feel.

The entire installation operates on this idea of reversal—that your body within the installation might in fact be the image presented in the various crystal balls; that you are both a complicit part of, and an observer to, an imagined landscape.

But there is no future told. No premonitions made. The glass orbs within the space are nothing more than material spheres, and you are nothing more than a viewer. The model you fantasize living in the environment of the exhibition fades away. The possible premonitions interrogate you with an empty fortune, but the image it promotes is blind, if not for its own aesthetics. Conceptual fitness.

Gold Diamond Park, Gabriele Beveridge, 2014, Installation view.  Courtesy the Artist and Elizabeth Dee, New York.

Gold Diamond Park, Gabriele Beveridge, 2014, Installation view.
Courtesy the Artist and Elizabeth Dee, New York

The paintings offer a different type of unreal-ness—one that becomes one with the space, almost architectural in their constructions. Ceiling panels are stacked a top one another in each, creating pyramid-type forms hung evenly throughout the space, reminiscent of Art Deco screens or doorways. The thick, cool, metallic silhouettes of the canvas frames are revealed off the wall, each of the sides treated with a high-gloss enamel of different pastels—powder blue, baby pink, dusty violet, whisper green. Hidden throughout the gallery and sparsely placed on many of the works, Geodes of different jewel tones create a subtle recurrence—in the corner of a painting, on the edge where the wall meets the ceiling, in the window visible only by the exit. The rocks seem to map their own path and agenda, placed across and through the work, irreverently occupying their sprawling territory.

For Beveridge, the mirage is the final destination. She creates a garden of fantasies and inventions in Gold Diamond Park, one that is dreamed by each viewer, and dreamed by the installation itself. While there are no directly illusive elements—every material claims its own presence—there is an overwhelming affect of fiction that permeates each and every possibility of the staged elements, empty characters, and implied associations on view. The minimalism Beveridge creates is one that makes the extra seem essential. She suggests that accessories are ultimately as empty a form as geometric abstractions; decoration is only hidden behind an excess of aesthetics. Retaining the concept of non-use is no different.


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Stephanie Cristello is the Editor-in-Chief for THE SEEN, and a Senior Editor US for ArtSlant.

Gold Diamond Park at Elizabeth Dee will run until December 20, 2014.

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