This summer, designer John Tong collaborates with Susan Hobbs Gallery on A Viewing Room v.5, an exhibition that opens up the conversation on the juncture of art and design. A Viewing Room began with a proposition: to bring the private public. Now, its fifth iteration offers an adjacent proposition: to consider the parallels between private and public.
Entering a gallery, we can anticipate seeing art on display. Hopefully, that art lingers and stays with us, our thoughts changing as we leave the gallery and go home, revealing more as we reflect on it. Tong’s sculptural installation consists of a mirror in the gallery with two benches. These benches border the mirror and face each other. Grounding the benches are salvaged scraps of paper positioned to look like a carpet. What first seems to be an invitation to sit is instead a display of reflection. Material causes have immaterial effects. This led us to a series of questions.
What do we look at? Here, the high ceilings and white walls reflected behind us? Or ourselves, a view most often seen at home? Except here, it is shown in a space you’ve anticipated being the audience. What does the act viewing reveal? Does art look back? Can we gain insight about ourselves by paying closer attention to how we view art, our posture, the art we like to look at, and the way it makes us feel?
Tong’s installation will be accompanied by a selection of artworks by gallery artists, including Scott Lyall, Beth Stuart, Derek Sullivan, and Shirley Wiitasalo. In their materiality or indexicality, each artwork is a proposition for reflection. A black mirror, refractive paint, two sets of diagrams, and ornamental patterning; these works are informed by mirrors or mirroring. Their reflections are slow to form and lie on the surface. Their images persist.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of Bruce Kuwabara, Donald Schmitt, and John Shnier in the realization of this project.
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