A BALANCE SHEET is a written statement of the assets and liabilities of an organization or body on a particular date. It is a point of reckoning, of leveling, of stopping and looking back in order to look forward, of accounting – for one’s actions or, for these artists - for one’s life.
In this exhibition, the artists consider the notion of stillness and reflection after trauma, of acceptance of the past, and signify the possibility of change. The artworks, both objects, and photographs incorporate themes of disturbance, obsession, fragmentation, contemplation and repose. They assert the now, the moment, the here, ascend and as a beginning, and touch on the softest stirrings of re-emergence and a continued journey. The images are scenes from an internal expedition to draw order from chaos, to discover calm and courage after delirium. The exhibition asserts the possibility to examine one’s own life, to determine personal growth, to consider development and resolve.
Kirsten Kempfer’s found and constructed objects represent slices of felt experience: of memory, of actions and of pure abstract qualities. They invite the viewer to literally enter their space and experience their living form, to touch them perhaps, to look down into, or up at them. The objects are real, removed from life and reassembled or altered, to present a scene or part of a scene of emotional significance.
The child’s table and chairs is vibrant in its odd solidity and immediate presence while referencing so clearly the past. The scene is tight, compact, the different items held together by the magnetism of otherness and as though by an exaggerated gravity, and the whole has emerged into our present space and time to be acknowledged and deciphered.
Kempfer displays a secondary layer of thinking about her own work in the written text which accompanies the objects, and scrawled directly onto the gallery walls. Here she reflects upon the meaning of various pieces in the exhibition, letting them speak back to her and provide an imagined context. In this action she further explores the imagery and makes a personal statement of her thinking/feeling process, stamped with her own hand on the current space where the objects are temporarily drawn together. Past, present and the timeless process of reflection are brought together in a single moment of assessment, of recognition.
There is a brutal reality and presence about Kempfer’s objects combined with a sense of borderless space. The different worlds of each piece overlap and the viewer may move freely among them. The free-standing door has no visible enclosed spaces either before or behind it. Does it stand open or closed? Yet the works also demonstrate an effort to confront this lack of boundary and containment. Torn envelopes are placed meticulously in order, the gallery walls are defined and acknowledged by writing on them, a broken mirror is reconfigured inside a wooden box and six metallic explosions are carefully lined up and hung in a methodical, evenly spaced line at a level to receive examination. These pieces display the process of rebuilding.
Light is a recurrent theme for Kempfer who often uses reflective materials, which create a coherence and sweeping wholeness across fractured objects, and counterbalance the coldness and hardness of the material with a fluidity and sparkle. A pivotal concept for the show is of the moth continuously fluttering towards the light, just as humankind constantly searches for meaning. A bare bulb hung low in the space makes the approaching viewer her/himself an echo of this image.
Kempfer writes her balance sheet by amassing and sublimating images and thoughts of personal significance, by reorganizing them and thus creating a potently present world in the process of change.
-Lizzy Le Quesne
Her eyes shot open and her heart raced. She acted on her first thought that morning. She picked up the hammer and smashed the mirror watching her reflection shatter into thousand pieces. Carefully she shifted through the shards and placed them in the box. The fragments sometimes cut her and made her bleed but that made her happy, reminding her she was still alive. The old shell of herself now sparkled inside. When she finished she gently closed the lid and smiled. The early morning was beautiful blanketed in fog.-- EXCERPT FROM CATALOG
It was a new home, but it was hers for now. She had time to examine it inside and out. She hoped the phone would ring, that the outside would come in, but she knew if it didn’t it was okay. She was safe. She was finally home. She sat on the couch and rested. She watched the moths flutter in, one after another. She wondered if they were stupid, crazy or just never learned. She wondered if she was the same. She thought maybe the moth’s journey was not a cycle of self-destruction but rather a compelling journey to find light in darkness. With this thought she could rest. She couldn’t shake the images from the dream. All she knew was the cold sweat that encased her body and that when she woke up she could stop running.
-- EXCERPT FROM CATALOG