Written by Jennifer Chen-su Huang
The Experimental Sound Studio is nestled between a furniture repair shop and a cemetery, an unexpected place for a gallery but the perfect intersection for Mie Kongo’s sculptures and Norman W. Long’s sound pieces.
Upon entering the exhibition Without Within, one hears the ambient noise of what seems like silverware rattling on dishes — the noises emitted by everyday life, but patterned, layered, and intentional. Much like the artwork it resides beside, Norman W. Long’s sound compilations are familiar yet different, altered and transformed. One imagines a relationship between the sound and the sight — the porcelain ware becomes enlivened by the noise. Mie Kongo’s sculptures are divine arrangements of found material and hand-casted ceramic parts. They echo ordinary forms, such as a brick, a two-by-four, a ceramic jug, but are rendered absurd. For example, the jug-like form is punctured with perfect holes, intentionally leaky, and carries a wooden plank, which becomes the ligament in a larger frame, whose sole purpose is to hold a porcelain brick and a printed plastic arc. This sculpture demands one’s attention; the polished metal pieces at the joints of the frame glimmer like the found sounds in Long’s work.
In addition to sculpture, Mie Kongo also showed a series of rectangular ceramic wall pieces that are both painterly and game board-like. Similar to the dimensional work, these ceramic paintings — or more technically glaze-ings — are methodical arrangements of red dots on lines, grids, and something like a Chinese Checkers board drawn onto a deep purply green metallic field. The colors are layered and complex, requiring the artist to concoct multiple glaze tests. Intimate in size and in composition, these images feel simultaneously familiar yet unknown.
There is something playful yet unassuming about this show. The visual works arranged beside the altered field recordings enhance one another, highlighting each other’s twinkling notes and details. They both draw from found material and attune one to the mystery in the mundane.
Like the venue’s austere location and exterior, one only has to look to find beauty in the banal or the gallery by Rosehill Cemetery. Without Within will be on view until August 18, 2019 at the Experimental Sound Studio in Edgewater.