A sense of ritual and pervasive threat connects the multimedia works in Amy Reidel’s exhibition Relic-quarry. Just inside the semi-dark gallery along one long wall, a video repeatedly shows a huge, approaching tornado. Prostrate on the gallery floor below this video, life-size silhouettes of a man and a woman stretch out helplessly in poses reminiscent of the death-thro casts of the victims buried in Pompeii. Reidel’s figures are literally flattened on a fluffy white rug that references their domestic life and relationship.
Lying in state against the opposite wall, a life-size figure on what seems to be a funeral bier is draped with a custom-woven cloth covered with weather radar patterns. This weather radar reference continues on several large, brightly colored oil paintings; one painting is a self-portrait showing the artist’s face covered with the abstract shapes of radar. Strangely, Reidel’s painted face seems to shift and move as it projects undecipherable emotion. Strategically placed on a pedestal beneath the self-portrait is a display of homegrown, brightly colored crystals and geodes. By their careful arrangement, they invoke a protective and otherworldly ritual. Both simple and mesmerizing, these crystals have a magical effect.
Nearby, eerie, disembodied hands, cast from life, rest quietly upon a neon green object that mimics a folded American flag, but without the specific markings that would identify it. Suggesting death, grief and loss, this existential feeling is picked up in the second video; here, an anonymous couple reverently folds a flag covered with weather radar imagery. As this scene loops continuously, the sound track plays a haunting hybrid of chanting and otherworldly moaning.
A final piece consists of an entire wall covered with small-framed experimental sketches, altered photos and images of various everyday objects, people and radar patterns. This works as a representation of Reidel’s thought-processes and also as a massive petition, such as found in churches, seeking sense and some control in a world that is undecipherable.
Review by Margaret Keller
Meramec Contemporary Art Gallery 11333 Big Bend St. Louis, MO
Saponified, hands cast, flag