What's on Los Angeles | Index

by Jody Zellen

July 11, 2019

Stephen Neidich
Making the rounds (a place to wait)
Wilding Cran Gallery
June 2 - July 27, 2019

Stephen Neidich at Wilding Cran Gallery

The grinding and clanging coming from the center of the gallery are familiar yet not quite identifiable. As one enters the space and is drawn toward the commotion, it almost feels as if the outside has been transported within. Downtown Los Angeles, like many other cities, is undergoing a building surge and many areas are being demolished to make way for new construction. It is commonplace to see cranes, piles of rubble and walled-off areas, while simultaneously hearing jack-hammers, drilling and the whirl of generators amidst the flow of traffic and honking horns.

That said, Stephen Neidich's installation, Making the rounds (a place to wait), 2019, is a strangely contemplative work. It is the only piece on view and as the spot-lit centerpiece, it takes over the gallery with its riveting presence. It consists of more than two dozen floor-to-ceiling-length metal chains of different thicknesses attached to a home-made camshaft nested within the ceiling rafters. This rig is in constant motion, causing the chains to undulate, each with a different tone. As the chains move up and down, they continuously brush against a large pile of concrete fragments placed in the center of the gallery's floor. (This haphazard arrangement would make Richard Long cringe.) The sound of the chains striking the concrete is at once dispiriting and jarring, as a reminder of the city's transformation outside. Yet the movement and sound of the chains has a delicate tinkle that is calming and beautiful.

As the chains bang against the detritus, the rocks begin to disintegrate, creating a layer of fine dust that suggest their eventual erosion and the fact that everything, rocks and chains, and even art, has a finite lifespan. There is a surprisingly light, animated quality to the chains and their accompanying shadows, beautifully projected on the gallery's back wall. As they click and clang against the rubble, it feels as if they are dancing.

To patient viewers, Neidich's mesmerizing installation transforms discordant sounds into a subtle symphony. Like the Swiss sculptor, Jean Tinguely whose kinetic works celebrate the movements and noises of machines, Neidich sees beauty in the mechanical.