Work with materials and forms that act as smokescreens, simultaneously indicating an activity is taking place while obscuring the event itself.
Includes events, photographs, pyrographs, reading rooms, drawings and animations.
Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson’s Smokescreens series (2006-ongoing) includes events, staged photographs, drawings, animations, and a reading room. In their photographic works, the artists take the smokescreen both literally, as a cloud of colored smoke, and figuratively, as a metaphorical idiom. Literally, the smokescreen is its own means of expression—each iteration takes on a particular shape, color, and dimension, derived from its particular material composition. Metaphorically, however, to put up a smokescreen means to intentionally obscure another activity, to mask or indicate an arrival or departure, appearance or disappearance. Setting off colorful explosions, the artists create temporary pyrotechnic events that yield to the particular vaporous quality of smoke, yet each iteration has its own set of physical characteristics, linked to a certain story or cinematic moment—the flight of the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz, the struggle of lion and gazelle, the visibility of state border, or the family portrait. For instance, the explosions of the Wizard of Oz series appear more diffuse, like the whiffs that trail off the end of the Wicked Witch’s broom. In Family Portraits, however, a pictorial genre with its own firmly established set of attributes, each iteration of smoke both eclipses and reveals a particular type of family member.
- Text by Erin Sickler, curator of the exhibition The Unspecific Index at 601Artspace, NY, NY. Text from the exhibition publication.