Image courtesy the artist and Macarone Gallery.
In his sculpture and installation, Eli Hansen, who lives and works in Tacoma, Washington, creates interactions between objects fraught with cryptic emotional and psychological implications. Most of his works look like a cross between a rural meth lab and an antique apothecary shelf, integrating colorful blown glass, melded and fused metal, and aging unvarnished wood. Using the works' intimate and evocative titles, viewers hash out on the spot where the words makes sense of the uncomfortably familiar objects. A solo exhibition of Hansen's work, "This is the last place I could hide," was recently on view at Maccarone Gallery.
My titles are all phrases or sentences designed to evoke a feeling without designating an exact story line. They are colloquial, based on emotional responses. I try to spend as much time with the work as possible as I name the pieces, many times literally talking to them. The pieces are fragments of story lines as well. I want to create a fantastical scene, one that takes you right to the edge of reality, but doesn't let go of you. You are given just enough information to build your own storyline, but not so much you can't follow it.
I've Made a Lot of Love Out of This One is a worktable, a small home lab. On the left is a condensing unit, set up to distill. The basic process of distillation is to separate two liquids through the use of heat. The liquid to be distilled is placed in the boiling flask, the orange vessel hovering over the hot plate. Its yellow neck is a refractive column, its elbow sending gas to be cooled in the water jacket, the device used to cool the vapor. Water runs through this continuously from a bucket and pump under the table. The liquid is collected in the yellow flat-bottom vessel, an Erlenmeyer flask. The colors I used for the vessels are the six colors in the ROYGBV spectrum.
On the right, the triple-necked boiling flask sits poised over a truncated icosahedron pattern mimicking a heating element, protected by burnt and soot covered aluminum foil. In the rear sits another boiling flask, half full. The liquid inside is actually a solid, a clear polyurethane, created through a chemical process when two liquids are combined. The possibilities and impossibilities of the objects create tension among each other, like that created around love and the ideas we use to create love.
The truncated icosahedron pattern, which recurred in other oworks in the show, is a common shape seen in carbon rings. If the pattern is completed, it will form a sphere, a Buckminsterfullerene (C-60) or Bucky ball, named after Buckminster Fuller, a champion of this shape and others in dome building.
I built the steel table on site, welding the brackets to hold the vessels directing onto the surface of the table, leaving behind smoke residue and splatter. The glass directly references 17th Century scientific and alchemical glass, as well as contemporary alcohol and methamphetamine laboratories. Using these direct references as a backdrop, I place the person, the scientist, in the picture with certain objects. I treat it as a worktable as I assemble it, preparing myself for a day of work at my lab.
"Acedia," the title of Swiss photographer Olivier Richon's exhibition at Ibid Projects, describes a state of indolence, reverie and torpor.