Heaven gets hot when Hell freezes over
June 29th through July 29th, 2017
Rond-Point Projects, Marseille
Vernissage le jeudi 29 juin à 18h30
“Heaven gets hot when Hell freezes over” is the first European solo exhibition by New-York based artist Leah Moskowitz. « when hell freezes over » is an expression in English used to describe a moment when the inconceivable will take place. The addition by Moskowitz of the turn of phrase, « heaven gets hot » is a rhetorical provocation. Everything gets hot—and then cold—as the consequences of rampant globalized consumption manifest. We are no longer in an age where there is some temperature that is impossible. Perhaps not even in the space of theological fantasy.
The exhibition includes the following elements, conceived together as an installation in four parts:
– A sound recording composed with layered audio of apricot pits against cast-iron pans.
– Photographs of the night sky made with several seconds of exposure, which are the record of an attempt to draw a form using the light from a star through the movement of the body. One photograph of the series is unaltered, but in the others the artist has scratched the emulsion from the surface of the print to emphasize the form drawn with light.
– To-scale photographs of apricots against the tile floor of Rond-Point Project’s gallery that spell out the phrase, ‘Le ciel est chaud’, which translates to English as, ‘The sky is hot’.
– An installation of cast iron pans bought in Marseille, propped on one side by an apricot pit in order to create a surface for sound to reverberate, and fresh apricots, in season.
Participation is invited.
The night sky is a fiction. We imagine it as a stable surface on which the stars appear, like the surface of a photograph or the blank page of a drawing. “The sky,” as an idea, separates us from the immense impossibility of space and the heat of so many burning orbs, so many pits of fire that twinkle ever more faintly as the light pollution of the City envelopes us.
The apricot is a metonym for the star. Its surface is a drawing of heat in shades of red and orange, composed by botanical happenstance. It is a perfect object in the sense that it rests in the palm of the hand, with all the incomprehensibility of the star but on scale of fingers, of the mouth, of the face. Yet its core, the hard thing at its center that is also its promise of an apricot season to come, is unyielding, almost hostile with its sharp edges and its impenetrability.
The blank floor tile is an abstraction of space. It is also a fiction, albeit a newer and more ‘objective’ one than the surface of the sky or the abstraction of space that concepts like ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’ entail. The floor tile dreams of a systematic world; a world of medicine and of structural solutions to the problems of the body. The square of white ceramic edged in aging grout is as good a metaphor for modernism as any.
The cast iron pan absorbs heat, harnesses it. An enamel of oil will ossify on its surface over years of use, an unreadable record of every meal. A drawing made of dark matter against dark matter, very slowly and by hand. Thus, the cast iron pan is the semiotic inverse of the floor tile. Both are utilitarian, but the pan is made useful by its passage through time rather than by its capacity to resist time’s effect.
There is a subtext for these gestures, the gravity of which it is perhaps worth being direct about. The United States is at particularly self-destructive juncture in its (quite short) history. It is a nation in the throes of a psychotic episode, one in which many thousands of people reject the capacity of language to give a reliable account of reality. It is possible to say, for example, “22 million people will lose their healthcare due to tax cuts to the nation’s wealthiest 400 families.” As if the words were weightless. As if the right to healthcare were an ideological position, and not the disintegration and death of the bodies of the poor, of women, of people of color, of the disabled, of children and the elderly. This is one example, but there are many. The psychotic relationship of the acting government to financial divestment, to the fact of climate change, to the imperative of racial justice, etc., saturates discourse. This phenomenon is an unfolding and collective self-destruction that is immense in its scope.
We are fucked. And it is apricot season.
Leah Moskowitz est née en Pennsylvania et vit et travaille à New York. Elle est diplômée du Bard College en photographie et a obtenu un MFA en arts visuels de l’Université de Columbia. Ses œuvres ont été récemment exposées au Jewish Museum, à Black and White Project Space, à la E.TAY Gallery, à la LeRoy Neiman Gallery, au Fisher Landau Center, et à la Wallach Art Gallery. Elle a enseigné la photographie à DCTV et à l’université de Columbia.
Leah Moskowitz was born in Pennsylvania and lives and works in New York, USA. She holds a BA in photography from Bard College and an MFA in visual arts from Columbia University. She has recently exhibited her work at the Jewish Museum, Black and White Project Space, E.TAY Gallery, LeRoy Neiman Gallery, the Fisher Landau Center, and the Wallach Art Gallery, and has taught photography at DCTV and Columbia University in New York.
Curated Natasha Marie Llorens as the seventh curator-in-residence of Rond-Point Projects Entrée Principale programme.