PUBLICATIONS AND REVIEWS
Jessica Dawson : Art Imitates Life, and Visa Versa
The Washington Post, September 30, 2006
Inga McCaslin Frick's digital photo assemblages exploit the flimsy membrane between the real and the depicted. Though mimicking the scale of history painting and that genre's sepia-toned gravitas, these pictures star bits of daily life in the painter's studio -- fake grapes, twine, a hibiscus, somebody's foot, some striped fabric. In a few of these pictures, Frick attached actual stuff to their surface -- the same swath of fabric or handful of grapes captured in the photo. You can hardly tell what's in the picture and what's outside of it, to delirious effect.
Fred Camper : Grand Illusions
Chicago Reader , October 14, 2005, Section Two, page 34
Yellow Yonder , 2005
Inga McCaslin Frick's startling, seductive mixed-media works at Flatfile make you ask: is that a real object or an image of one? Her mix of actual objects with digital prints never completely blends the two visually, enhancing the sense of uncertainty. These six pieces and the three digital prints in the show have their roots in Frick's upbringing as a Jehovah's Witness, her subsequent rebellion, and an intense depression three years ago. After leaving a job teaching digital art in Florida, she moved into a friends's basement in Washington, D.C. She feared her marriage was ending, and on Christmas Eve 2002 she was alone. Though painting was her first love, she hadn't painted in eight years, teaching instead and creating video installations with Gillian Brown (who's also showing at Flatfile). That night, Frick began to paint over her old works. "I systematically ruined them -- it was like picking up a musical instrument after not having played for a long time. I stayed up all night, and at some point I did something right, and that made me so happy I cried."
Frick says she took "a very aggressive stance toward recomposing this life that had gone astray. I thought, 'I need some friends, some money, some love.' I went to work on my marriage, and I got a studio space in a building with other artists. I started reading Buddhism." She called one series she did then "Favela" because "a favela is made out of whatever materials are available, often scruffy things." She drew the outline of a house over a few of these works -- "a great metaphor for structuring the chaos of your world." When she started to glue fabric and objects to the paintings, one piece "became a big mess, out of control, and I said, 'I'll take this into the computer and see what I can do.'" She photographed it, manipulated the photo, printed that, and glued pieces of the original onto the print. "I think of the computer as a metaphor for the brain," she says, "and I was combining a very mental world with a very physical world." One of the pieces here, Interior Decorating I, is a large, mostly abstract digital print that creates complex illusions: an image of hanging fabric on the right is eerily like a piece of actual fabric on the left. Yellow Yonder combines prints of red cushions with real cushions and prints of striped fabric with sheets of the actual fabric, which gush out surreally from the surface. Attaching her prints and objects directly to the wall, as in Yellow Yonder, makes the illusions more vivid.
In response to the certainties of her childhood, Frick embraces uncertainty. For Jehovah's Witnesses she says, "there's not even the tiniest element of doubt. You really are separated from the world. You don't go to college, you certainly don't marry outside of the Witnesses, and you wouldn't use the word 'believe' -- it's referred to as 'coming into the truth.'" Frick was a fervent adherent until she was 14, when she got a job where people discussed politics and philosophy. "My head was spinning," she says -- and she had affairs with a number of these adult men. In the late 60s and early 70s she drifted around the United States and Europe, until she got the idea that "I ought to do something," she says. "I put things I was interested in doing into a hat, and physics came out." She went to college to study that, then switched to art at the University of California Santa Cruz, where she was introduced to abstract expressionism whose "rich vocabulary" and "language of relationships" still influence her work. Inspired by the videos of Gary Hill -- who "pays attention to the shape of consciousness," she says -- she began to study video and digital art, in part to have a reliable income.
Frick says that her marriage remains challenging and her economic life in D.C. is marginal ("I live in a building without a shower"). But on another level, she says, "I'm deeply satisfied. I feel I couldn't be doing anything that's more interesting. I ground my world on nothingness -- there's no belief for which I'm going to argue. Our subjective beliefs are our illusions, but I do believe in the power of illusion."
Michael Klant: Grundkurs Kunst 4: Aktion, Kinetik, Neue Medien,
Braunschweig: Schroedel, 2004, pp. 152-153 (textbook).
This scholarly German text places contempary new media art practice in a historical context. My collaborative work with Gillian Brown is discussed together with work by Marina Abromovic, Vito Acconci, Carl Andre, Joseph Beuys, Jonathan Borofsky, Alexander Calder, Christo, Peter Fischli, Masaki Fujihata, Karl Otto Gotz, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Rebecca Horn, William Kentridge, Yves Klein, Richard Long,Christian Marclay, Gordon Matta-Clark, Mark Napier, Bruce Nauman, Shirin Neshat, Nam June Paik, Pablo Picasso, Otto Piene, Jackson Pollock, Pipilotti Rist, Bill Seaman, Jean Tinguely, Bill Viola, Peter Weibel and others.
Claire Wolf Krantz: "The Best of Visual Art in 2003," Chicago Artists' News, January, 2004
Still from Unstill Then,
Video Installation, 2001,
Inga McCaslin Frick
"My Choice for best Chicago exhibit was Gillian Brown and Inga McCaslin Frick's video installations at I Space gallery of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 230 W. Superior, 2nd Floor, Chicago. Here, Brown's videos interacted with sculptural objects, while Frick incorporated a reading of Merleau Ponty with her video of swimmers. Although the artists conceived their works separately, they shared visual materials, (i.e. appropriated and original film footage), technological equipment and ideas as they jointly explored perception in relation to processes of thought and imagination."
Claire Wolf Krantz: review, Art in America, October, p. 142.
Insight Out, Video Installation,
2000, Gillian Brown
Gillian Brown and Inga McCaslin Frick at I Space
"Gillian Brown and Inga McCaslin Frick have shown together in the past, and they paired up again for this two-person exhibition of video installations at the University of Illinois's
I Space. In separately conceived works, both artists explore perception as it relates to our thought processes and imagination. While Brown's videos interact with sculptural objects, Frick incorporates sound with projected images. For a work titled Insight Out (eye diagram), Brown constructed a three-dimensional multipart model diagramming sight. A small video camera projects, onto a sandblasted portion of a large glass globe, an image of the artist writing the number one on a blackboard. The projection is then refracted through a lens, mimicking real vision, as it is refocused upside down onto a large cutout Plexiglas hand, the fingers pointing skyward. There is a small inverted wire hand suspended within the globe connectid to the large hand with criss-crossing wires that form an "X." In the video, as Brown makes her marks, the numbers shift and change, fading into various diagrams and formulas, becoming metaphors for the progressive history of mathematics.
Frick's Turnaround (Unstill Then) presents a compendium of footage projected on the front and back of two translucent screens placed 8 feet abart. Her identical by unsynchronized image sequences are focused both on and through the screens, producing complex interactions and movements. Everyday scenes (children on playground equipment, newspapers blowing in the wind) float by, slow down and are overtaken by passing clouds and flying birds. In various degrees of focus and blur, this play of imagery is both meditative and discordant, as the accompanying audio is also out of sync.
Brown's background in conceptual photography and Frick's in physics and painting have influenced their work as well as the artists' explorations of perceiving and imagining. Their careful consideration of space, combined with an attention to movement, enhance the beauty and complexity of these projects."
Mouthtomouth magazine: lipservice, Spring 2003 issue, p. 142.
Still from Unstill,
Video Installation, 2001,
Inga McCaslin Frick
Gillian Brown and Inga McCaslin Frick:
Each/Other Vanishing Point, I Space
"Words will never do justice to the sheer visual poetry of this show. Suffice it to say, this was what you wish your dreams looked like: flickering superimpositions of moving images culled from lifetimes of memory, multiply projected on transparent scrims, glass lenses, and/or small sculptural forms molded from cheesecloth, casting magic lantern shows of longing, desire, and nostalgia on darkened gallery walls. Side by side, these artists acknowledged their kinship in fashioning densely layered, technically intricate, and unresolved narratives. Their room-sized audio visual collaboration, Each/Other, was the eloquent exception: an ocean swimmer -- accompanied by recitations from Merleau-Ponty's The Visible and the Invisible -- approached her double reflection to achieve an apotheosis of confluence, a fleeting moment of transcendence in the struggle for integration of the authentic and projected selves. This was a rare exhibition: one we could look at forever."
Temin, Christine: "Assorted Artists Capture Rapture,"
The Boston Globe,February 2, 2000.
Each/Other, Video Installation, 1998
A collaboration between
Inga McCaslin Frick and Gillian Brown
"Among the other notably strong water inspired pieces in the show are Pat Steir's familiar drenched-looking canvases, the action of the paint cascading downward; Kiki Smith's long horizontal "Tidal," prints of a repeating moon suggesting its various phases, all hanging over a crinkled-paper sea; and Gillian Brown and Inge McCaslin Frick's video installation "Each/Other." This last is a fragment of historic black-and-white footage of a woman swimming the English Channel, simultaneously projected on two surfaces that angle outward like a book. The swimmer eventually meets herself in the middle, in a sensual Rorschach that then dissolves. It's astonising that the creators of such voluptuousness have also contributed the most repulsive work in the show. Upstairs in hell, where it belongs, is the Brown/Frick, "Untitled (cockroaches)," a video in which the bugs seem to consume a wall, itself a stand-in for skin, meant as impermeable yet being eaten away."
Return to my Solo Work
Baker, Kenneth: review, "Contemporary Painting Celebrated in DC,
" The San Francisco Chronicle: Datebook, November 21.Detail from
Black and White and Read All Over,
1993 Inga McCaslin Frick
"The real discovery in this show is Washington painter Inga Frick, who has learned from Sigmar Polke how to build a picture in see-through layers that keep its psychological center adrift."
Mahoney, J.W.: review, Art in America, May, pp. 127-128.Detail from Panic, 1992
Inga McCaslin Frick
Inquiries into the act of perception have been one of modern art's more enduring themes, stretching from Seurat's experiments with the way the eye processes color to Giacometti's fierce attempts to catalogue with the marking of his pencil, the existential experience of seeing. Inga Frick's effort involves sentience, how the mind embraces perception. Her paintings are confusing, with multiple layers of imagery combined in a seemingly chaotic flux of recognizable forms and indecipherable patterns. They are intended to be pictures of mentation itself, of how the mind absorbs and mixes information. Their scale is heroic, in consonance with the scale of her intention. What she depicts, however, are ordinary moments. Each painting conveys its own state of consciousness and carries its own menu of styles, from an airbrushed Photo-Realism to a rigorously painterly abstraction. Perhaps the most unsettleing quality in these works is this stylistic variety, as if Frick were reinventing her approach from work to work.
Panic (1991) is a melange of images of Mickey Mouse, Morton Salt logos colored red, and fragments of medical texts painted onto striped fabric. Her images are often smoothly distored along regular curves, as if they were viewed through a fish-eye lens -- the result of a technique of bending the original images, on transparencies, when projecting them onto the canvas. The title of this work has a specific reference: it reflects the artist's state of mind when confronted with a medical diagnosis. She mixes pure data (sybolized by the texts), a sense of frightful absurdity (the innocence of the Disney figure) and vulnerability (the Morton Salt girl under her umbrella).
In the recent Tatonnement #2, torn strips of printed cloth and thick sweeps of white and red paint combine with painted images from Matisse's La Danse and from Japanese prints, plus several roughly painted cocker spaniels. "Tatonnement" means groping, moving forward through trial and error, and the furious circular churning of this composition seems to telegraph a terrible yearning for certainty amid a chaos of breoken thoughts.
Interpreting these paintings is neither as easy nor as necessary as experiencing the multiplicity of their possible meanings. Inga Frick has said that her works are "epistemes of consciousness," that they picture "unspeakably precious moments of memory." The fact that they rarely coalesce into a sense of wholeness can be unnerving for the viewer. These paintings are often as bewilderingly oblique as the purposes of our own thoughts. -- J.W. Mahoney
Christopher French (editor): 43rd Biennial Exhibition of Contemportary American Painting, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC, 1993, pp. 28, 54-55. (catalog published in conjunction with the exhibition)Detail from
Cycling (Shadow Box),
1992, Inga McCaslin Frick
"Inga Frick layers images one over another, evoking a dreamlike state in which cognitive functions merge with the cacophony of the subconscious. Frick has a passion for the immaterial; for her, the ephemera of the physical world acts as a doorway to the metaphysical, and the fragmented imagery that populates her painting supports a variety of meanings[.....] is delineated through her use of illustrated fabric as a grounding field over which photograph-based images are constructed. In Black and Wite and Read All Over, 1992, Frick builds translucent layers on a ready-made ground of commercially produced, flatly rendered nursery-rhyme illustrations, provoking a vigorous compositional tension between the field and the objects set within it. The flashes of phenomenological experience -- a mysterious, fragmentary vision of someone riding a bicycle, or as in Black and White and Read All Over, an almost imperceptible female form that emerges from the commotion of the fabric background -- become threads in a dense visual tapestry. Whether approximating reality or imagination, these associations stimulate the viewer's own contemplations of the relative nature of past and present, imagination and reality." Christopher French
Detail from Chatter, 1993
Inga McCaslin Frick
" Poised on the precipice between fantasy and reality, daydream and delusion, Inga frick's paintings are manic forays into the subconscious. Figures float through her chaotic melanges of illusionary objects and abstractions in a mellifluous flurry of shapes and colors; images move in and out of focus and back and forth through disjointed narratives. Assemblies of disonant juxtapositions, Frick's paintings are more hallucinatory than aggressive, occupying that strangely atemporal realm of dreams where giant bananas truly can float above a naked geisha doing the wash. Indeed, this type of occurrence is common in Frick's out-of-whack world. In Black and White and Read All Over, birds' nests, naked body parts, and fairytale fragments push cognition through a finely meshed sieve. Everything is familiar, yet nothing can be understood: of dreams where giant bananas truly can float above a naked geisha doing the wash. Indeed, this type of occurrence is common in Frick's out-of-whack world. In Black and White and Read All Over, birds' nests, naked body parts, and fairytale fragments push cognition through a finely meshed sieve. Everything is familiar, yet nothing can be understood: this is reinforced by the artist's decision to forego canvas or linen for a patterned fabric whose illustration of fairytales deepens the painting's surface cacophony. Designed to be hung in a corner, the painting reads like an open book, an effect echoed by the centrally located outline of a figure reading. Frick has drawn the figure from the viewer's perspective, so that viewing it is like looking down at on'es own body; it is as if the viewer is the reader, entering into the text throught the positions of this amorphous, unidentified character. Bordering the painting's left edge, a narrow black-and-whire checkered panel with black text superimposed on it abruptly halts such hazy visions. But the pattern also makes it impossible to discern the text, in effect making these written words just as mysterious and ungraspable as the artist's visual narrative. Frick has created a story within a story within a story, the pictorial equivalent of standing between two mirrors and watching your reflection extend into infinity.
In Shadow Box, a lone bicyclist, again painted from the viewer's perspective, pedals across an unfamiliar galaxy while clutching a purple Popsicle. Faint outlines of dancing couples in old-fashioned apparel form ethereal constellations in a bizarre star system. An airbrushed man in a tuxedo hovers upside down from the painting's topside, while the legs of his incompletely rendered dance partner kick out to one side. It's an intergalactic waltz or jitterbug through which Frick's decidedly contemporary cyclist nonchalantly pedals. In her collusion of times, places and spaces, Frick pushes narrative resolution and recognizable information into an abyss of extravagant imagination: entering Shadow Box is like stepping through the looking glass, like Alice, we enter into an unknown place of perverse whimsies. Suberting expectation and undermining concise interpretations, Frick consistently pushes and twists the boundaries of perception. Her paintings are ecstatic fabrications of an absurdly poetic fervor. Fancifully mysterious, her rhapsodic flights venture into quixotic realms that suggest the possibilities inherent to the quintessence of humanity." Alisa Tager