Fernando Orellana and Al Honig: After Life
Opens July 10, 2015, 6-9pm
766 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
His Minerals, 2014
Incline Gallery and Valerie Leavy present After Life, a two-person exhibition that probes the possibility of life after death through the work of Fernando Orellana and Al Honig. After Life opens Friday, July 10 with an artist reception from 6-9pm.
After Life pairs the minimalist devices from Orellana’s Shadows series with Honig’s eclectic Urns. In the ongoing series Shadows, Orellana provides a way for the dead, or living-impaired as he’s taken to calling them, to interact with their own personal possessions, and therefore with us.
“If you break your leg, you’re gonna be walking around on crutches, so we’ve got devices for that. If you’re paralyzed, we have devices for that. If you’re blind we have devices for that. But if you’re dead– do we have devices for that?”
-Artist Fernando Orellana in an interview with BreakThru Radio – Art Uncovered
Each machine holds an object of importance to the recently departed, extracted from a recent estate sale. Inspired by paranormal research, spiritualism, and ghost folklore, these machines continuously search for the dead, attempting to allow them the continued use of their worldly possessions.
By monitoring sudden fluctuations in temperature, infrared light, and electromagnetic readings, these elegant machines “detect” the dead through the sorts of measurable phenomenon that paranormal researchers look for when hunting for ghosts. The readings are displayed on a small LCD screen. If at any moment there is a sudden spike in any two of these three measurements, the machine deduces that there is a paranormal “event” happening and triggers the associated device for the living-impaired person, lighting his incense or ringing her bell for her.
The interactive artworks are intended as an aid for the dead, but in the process also become a de facto memorial to them, as we imagine who they were in life through the objects they’ve left behind.
The title of Honig’s Urns series announces their purpose in no uncertain terms. Reminiscent of found object sculpture pioneered by Duchamp and elaborated by the Dadaists and Surrealists of the 1920s and ‘30s, each of Honig’s works ensconce a container meant for the ashes of a loved one. Many of these free standing sculptures are human scale, and combined with their anthropomorphic attributes, the works present almost as a person, or as an embodiment of that which no longer has a body: the deceased.
Each urn is equipped with a “window” so that the departed can look out at the world around them. It is this aspect of Honig’s work that relates it to Orellana’s: each explores the possibility that we do not depart when our bodies do, that some aspect of self remains, and has agency. Together, the work contrasts beautifully. Honig’s motley assemblages emphasize the sleek minimalism of Orellana’s devices. The potential of Orellana’s machines to activate at any time, pregnant with the possibility of sounding off and announcing the presence of a ghost, is a stark contrast to the quietude of Honig’s sculptures, standing stolidly in their role as Final Resting Place.
The past life of Incline Gallery is relevant to the exhibition theme, as well. Part of a former mortuary, Incline Gallery gets its name from the series of ramps formerly used to transport caskets and gurneys from the ground floor to the embalming room.
Incline Gallery is an alternative art space that fosters relationships between community and artists, creating opportunities for emerging as well as established artists to exhibit in a non-cube format that challenges and encourages experimentation in exhibition design. Fernando Orellana is based in Troy, NY and is Associate Professor of Electronic Art at Union College in Schenectady, NY. Sculptor Al Honig has been living and working prolifically in San Francisco for four decades.