Where is the boundary that marks the end of something and the beginning of something else? The barrier, the frame, the stage, the verandah, the extension, the car, the walkway, the swimming pool, the holiday are each locations and spaces of mind. They take their definition from otherness so that the stage faces the bank of theatre seats just as the lectern faces the lecture hall; the actor and the lecturer face their audience. Similarly the walkway is a passage, a stage of transition from one state or place to another. The built environment is exactly that, a structure and system that signals and encodes the different activities that take place. So we know where we are.
But what if we didn’t? – or didn’t realise that we didn’t? Graham Gussin’s work inhabits this porosity where inner space and outer space collide. But more than this, by so doing his work enacts displacements – of being, of place and function – because what he presents isn’t the edge of things or the frame that defines, but the understanding that the edge may not be there because what is up for definition cannot be so delineated being unreachable, exceeding containment. But still we try. It is one way of making meaning. Such a state describing the action of the sublime is in a sense a commonplace; it is perhaps even banal and everyday, and the sort of thing that really should and would usually pass without comment. Art is always a reaching out for something that can’t quite be grasped.
But Gussin’s work isn’t about lines and edges that we can run our fingers along, and it isn’t about objects and things in the world to be walked around. It is about states of mind. The line may be there between thinking about something and making it, but then the making is not the end of anything as these things are motors to thought. Translation is probably an adequate metaphor here if that activity is understood as essentially generative so that the object is a translation (transformation too perhaps) of a prior conception that is never quite represented, but instead stands as another conception for subsequent translation.
Such slippage is about time taken and time occupied – more so than about volumes and spaces. The lists that form the work Best One Hundred 1990 1990, for instance, or Everything Available 1992 makes this quite clear. These lists don’t map places or things but wonder that spans experiences, as much about the immediate experience as memories of events; memories that could be about the future (a future set in the present that makes now feel strange). Albrecht Durer’s conundrum print Melancholia 1 from 1514 is 500 years old today but still spawns thought. Its polyhedron defines – in ways we can only speculate – emotion and thought as do the other elements of the image, such as money bag, keys, wings, magic numbers. This is not a work of reason or logic but imagination and a productive absurdity. Gussin has re-imaged, translated and projected, these into a family of polyhedra titled Bloom 2013; hard edged pods where thought opens form. These are future-seeming forms that are yet 500 years old; there is no division between two states, just realization of potential.
Andrew Wilson 2014