At the core of William Lamson's projects is an ongoing quest to reconcile two opposing views–– the artist seemingly in calm control of his environment and, alternately, struggling against the forces of nature and time. His investigations call to mind the efforts of earthwork artists in the late 1960s and early 70s, but with decided anti-heroic and absurdist twists. His videos, photographs, and performative actions occur within fixed parameters: a camera angle is set, movements are defined, materials are selected, a time of day is determined. Yet in all this initial precision lies a built-in quotient of uncertainty. How exactly does one harness elemental forces such as wind, water, or light and then give them tangible form?
Throughout this exhibition we see Lamson’s ability to wrest poetic ramifications from simple gestures played out over time to create something greater than the sum of its parts. He brings together a variety of simple means, actions, and fragile systems that strive to reach a moment of equilibrium, no matter how elusive and brief. Whether using Mylar and reflective tape to make photographs in the landscape that give temporary form and color to the sun’s last rays, or punctuating the gallery with geometric forms made from sand and water that will eventually disintegrate (or not) over the course of the exhibition, Lamson is rendering and marking time. Although his efforts are subject to the mercy of forces beyond his control, there are moments of convergence when binaries meet and the light shines clearly. Like Emily Dickinson’s poem, “There’s a certain Slant of light,” which speaks of the need to engage with these forces and to accept that their power can both overwhelm and elevate our existence, Lamson’s work accepts the inevitability of change and observes its manifestations closely.
– Corinna Ripps Schaming
The exhibition is accompanied by a full-color brochure with an interview with the artist and Adam Frelin.
The exhibition and related publications are made possible with major support from the UAlbany Office of the President, Office of the Provost, The University at Albany Foundation, University Auxiliary Services, and the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation.