Conceptualizing Color

The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center not only plays a crucial role in Atlanta’s arts community but also serves as the southeast forerunning contemporary art centers. Circulating a select number of exhibitions throughout the year from artists around the world, each piece chosen on the walls of ACAC has voiceless diction and deep aesthetic value at the roots of its creation. The appropriately titled In Transition and Coloring are the museums most current running exhibitions with a focus of eight different artists being noted by curator Stuart Horodner.

Among the thought provoking works placed accordingly within the stark white walls of the Art Center Coloring show sits the most enticing work present, instillation artist Paul Stephen Benjamin’s entrancing video piece ABCKL. This time and color based work uses twenty old-school CRT television sets looping video in each screen featuring clips of historically and culturally powerful black icons in tandem with various styles of letters spelling p-o-w-e-r and b-l-a-c-k through its vertical columns.  The icons span from faces like Elderidge Cleaver, Condoleezza Rice to Beyoncé, and Lil Wayne. All of these references to blackness in the media flashing over the source of societies main media outlet, framed by an entangled heap of black, red and, deep green cords.

Touching on American politics, race, and identity Benjamin’s ABCKL is riddled with aesthetic bullets that hit the core of the black communities constant battle with a collective visual presence within America’s cultural landscape. Raising questions about the epistemological value of black power between generations and with whom and how the phase has or is being defined. The captivating instillation mirrors reality as ones mere presence and interpretation of the images and their vehicle is determined by the viewer’s own personal philosophy and experience. Even the strategically placed RCA cables paying homage to the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League’s Pan-African flag may fall deaf onto the ears of the audience as a result of age or ethnic identity. Watching the clip over and over again, over a period of time, from different angles: the viewers will more than likely find themselves left with no answer to the unavoidable questions and concerns that ABCKL invites.

Another noteworthy instillation commissioned for the museum walls is Anne Lindberg’s site-specific piece Taut. Spanning a tilted horizontal line spaced high above the concrete floor are hundreds, possibly thousands of ‘taut’ strands of blue, yellow, and green strands of Egyptian cotton fixed to the wall by meticulously placed stables which hold the entire work together. The physical beauty of this work and the fragility of its structure turn the object into a sort of meditative color field painting. The color and impact of Lindberg’s piece change as the viewer moves across the room in relation to the work. Although there is no deep conceptual meaning to be extracted from a work like Taut it questions how line, color and texture interact with perception. How one strand or a collection of them in this case move the individual nature of one piece of thread into and enveloping work of contemplative art. Completely altering challenging the audience visually and emotionally with its breathtaking presence.

In retrospect it's of no wonder why these mentioned works fall into the same exhibition, named and intended to challenge the “conditions of color”. The artwork selected for Coloring are not only interesting but transitional offering a visual an conceptual range that offer physical and intellectual pleasure to anyone interested in art. This exhibition along with the equally exceptional In Transition will be showing at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center located in the Westside Arts District until March 8, 2014. 

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