Heavy dark encaustic panels, fluttering wax encased images. blurred photos and a dark suspended specimen cast a disquieting spell in Stephanie Hargrave’s exhibit Semantic Drift. The assembled pieces feel like a documentation of an experiment, a trip to a forensic lab or evidence room. Spanning references from etymology to entomology, Hargrave comes up with a collection of pieces that intrigue us in their inscrutable beauty and provoke us to consider the mutability of science and language.
In these pieces a soft, dark, delicate aesthetic seduces us to consider the work’s content. The soft sheen of beeswax blurs the X-ray like images entombed in the boxy encaustic panels. Pale, translucent wax infused images on paper feel on the brink of disappearing. Pinned loosely across the wall in a temporary or extemporaneous scattering they look like clues to the mystery, their quasi organic shapes strangely intimate. The dark blur of fuzz seems to vibrate in the photographs, an anxiety surrounding its identity. A tangled sculpture drops from the ceiling. In both the paper and panels, the images as well as the placement on the wall suggest parts, or the combining of parts–a dissection or hybridization. Images have a hazy or indecipherable quality. In all, we are not quite sure what we are looking at. There is an impulse to look closely and an equal impulse to look away, but the seduction of looking overrides the anxiety of recognition.
Hargrave has a deep interest in the unseen web of biology. We sense the organic references in her images and process. In Semantic Drift there is an equally powerful and pervasive suggestion of misunderstanding, hidden and irretrievable information, incomprehension and muteness.