Opening Thursday September 18th, 6-8pm
The sculptural installations of Fred Eerdekens investigate the interplay between light, materials and language. For over ten years he has produced a body of work that utilizes the way projected light falls on a range of carefully manipulated materials - to create shadows in the form of suggestive, yet ultimately elusive words and texts. From twisted copper wire beginnings, Eerdekens’ materials have expanded to include household commodities, piles of second-hand clothing, and custom-made artificial trees and plants. The ambiguous resonance of his texts, however, has only become deeper.
‘Neo-Deo’, the centerpiece of this show, makes humorous use of the source of light in all of his work, the projector. Here, it is a collection of fluffy synthetic cotton clouds suspended in the center of the space that create, from shadow, the glowing text ‘Neo-Deo’ on the gallery wall. The reference to the almighty as the source of light taps a rich vein of philosophy going back to Aristotle, where knowledge is configured as a hierarchical system radiating outward from a single source, yet inseparably tied to that source. Eerdekens creates a mini-spectacle out of all of this, but one that is critically undermined to comic effect by the inclusion of the word neo, reminding us that any claim to sublime power or knowledge is ultimately doomed to the relativity of history.
The appearance of the text in Eerdekens’ work always comes as a surprise. The relation between light, object, and cast shadow - that most reliable of indices - is overturned, set loose by the surplus signification of the words or phrase. The result is a high degree of self-consciousness as to the workings of language - and cognition in general. We feel we are present at the very moment of signification, but one that is somehow prolonged, stretched out, made material. He creates a literal representation of language as a leap of faith.
Rather than making a structuralist point about our being the sum of the language that we use, however, the corollary, the 'dark side of the moon' of Eerdekens work, is the vast indefinable other of non-linguistic meaning that it points to. Terry Myers has highlighted this aspect of Eerdekens' work, relating it to the fiction of Thomas Pynchon, where: Ignorance is not just a blank space on a person's mental map ... it has contours and coherence, for all I know, rules of operation as well.
Eerdekens work represents an exploration of this 'anti-matter' of meaning, nowhere more apparent than in ‘Blind Spot’, the second installation in this show. The piece is a 20” diameter white sphere mounted on the wall, lit so that the merest margin of light is visible as a glow around the edge of its shadow. The piece is emblematic of the artist’s practice as a whole, in that it is from the indeterminate, transitional, ‘twilight’ area of the penumbra that the shadow - and by extension, meaning itself - is produced.
Fred Eerdekens lives and works in Hasselt, Belgium. His retrospective exhibition ‘The Retina Diamond’ opened at MUHKA, Antwerp in 2002 and was accompanied by the publication of a major monograph. Other recent solo shows have included ‘Golden Delicious’, organized by Bank De Goof, Limburg, Belgium, as well as shows at James Van Damme Gallery, Brussels. In 1986, Eerdekens had his New York solo debut at the seminal East Village alternative space, New Math Gallery.