C Magazine, 22-MAR-01
Time-Out Sharon Switzer The Red Head Gallery, Toronto
In Time-Out, Sharon Switzer's inventive installation on view this past winter at the Redhead Gallery, six looped video animations jostle for the viewer's attention. The six monitors, perched on top of draped towers, screen simultaneously in a darkened room, each one becoming an animated head. The heads play their own visual narratives and sound tracks, achieving a riot of spectacle and cacophony.
In this new work, Switzer converges the time-based forms of video and digital animation and orchestrates a little meaning. She casts herself as a wizard, conjuring up dreamy, narrative substance -- informed by the ghosts of close relatives and celebrated figures likes Merritt Oppenhiem, Walter Benjamin, Marcel Proust and Hannah Hoch. Referencing zoetropes and parlour tricks, she dallies with the licentious practice of making art. She declares her narrative content by writing: "In one animation, a woman sits in a kitchen, the light is warm, she is alone, reading and drinking tea, time slows down, then it starts to snow in the kitchen, it snows, and piles up until she is no longer visible. The snow melts, and then it starts snowing again. In another, a woman flaps like a bird, standing on a rooftop, she starts to rise off the roof, maybe one or two feet, and then falls back down again, and again."
The allure of the flying dream, the sadness of a circus clown, the secret seduction of a toy train reflected back in tinted antique glass balls and the demonstration of a weird science project are formally presented with a little of that literary convention of encoding meaning within the parable form. Time-Out outlives the first moment of astonishment because Switzer's installation questions faith in a contemporary way, without citing specific belief systems. Switzer asks us to participate as consumers in her democratic blur between high-brow culture and commercial entertainment.
Time-Out offers a wonderfully witty view of the persistent synthesis of the boundless hope and poignant disappointment that claim most of us a lot of the time. In Switzer's improbable digital catalog, her animated circumstances coalesce to form a larger whole -- to concede a time for reflection and allow entry to the possibility of celebrating small fragile reveries.