Thursday, September 12, 2013

Syrop & Chang

Syrop & Chang

Truth and Censorship

How does one understand truth when the truth is censored? Syrop and Chang's two person exhibition poses this question to visitors of Chapman's Guggenheim Gallery.
Mitchell Syrop explores the notions of text and the power it holds to the viewer by scribbling sometimes very personal statements on large scale surfaces. His blown-up versions of notes written hastily in composition books serve to give the viewer an emotional response that coincides with the urgency of his writing. We feel rushed, nervous, even anxious, and we almost can see him writing the words as we read them. The text is almost performative within itself.
York Chang dives into the idea of information, what it means to the public, and how it is provided to us. His pieces involve playing with the viewer by simultaneously giving and taking away information. For example, on one wall of the gallery are several large fluorescent lights, wrapped in black string so that a majority of the light is not visible. On another wall are rows of Polaroid photos, turned towards the wall so the only impression we get is of the black backside of the photographs. Again, a similar theme is displayed in the large stacks of newspapers set in the center of the gallery space, all from one day, headlines about terrorist attacks. He is both providing us the knowledge that the information is there, and showing us how he specifically took it away. With the lights, it is apparent; he has covered them in such a way that they don't do their job. The Polaroids provide us an inkling-we know there should be pictures underneath but are denied the privilege of seeing them. However, the newspapers provide two ideas in themselves. York is clearly politically motivated in choosing papers headlined with terrorist attacks, questioning whether this history is accurate or handed to us for purposes other than knowing the truth. He also is denying information by buying so many of these newspapers. When the papers were out, he would have bought so many that many people wouldn't have gotten copies. This may seem far fetched, but by providing us with the visual, he denies others the same information.
Another interesting idea of the fabrication of history is the piece on the wall parallel to the other newspapers. Two seemingly identical lithographs of newspaper clippings are framed next to each other, and each has a section of scratching. From a distance the lithographs do look the same, but when the viewer looks closer, they will realize there are two different headlines for the same date. This brings up the idea of questioning history itself and the institutions that provide truth to us.
Lastly, the entirety of the exhibition is black and white. The irony of this absence of color is the age old saying that "the truth is black and white." 
But is it?

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