In Action for the Delaware William Lamson creates the illusion that he is standing on the surface of the river, calmly floating downstream. The camera pulls back, however, and reveals his initial struggle against the strong current of cold water to hoist himself atop the flotation structure he has devised. It is a difficult negotiation to mount the structure, find his balance, and adjust his weight so that the device hovers just below the surface of the water, invisible in the camera shots from above, but visible in the close-up, river level shots. These two opposing views—of the artist seemingly in calm control of his environment and, alternately, of his struggle against the forces of nature—also pull the curtain back to reveal the art making process itself.
While Lamson’s video works have often found him playfully and strenuously interacting with his environment (both in the natural world and in his studio), Action for the Delaware continues his recent engagement with the environment in the act of art making. Lamson’s previous exhibition at The Boiler (Pierogi’s satellite space) featured a two-channel video and sculpture created in the Mojave Desert, A Line Describing the Sun. Begun at the Center for Land Use Interpretation’s artist-in-residence program in Wendover, Utah, Lamson finished the project in a dry lakebed west of Barstow, California. The video and sculpture are both a record of two day-long performances in which the artist follows the sun with a large Fresnel lens mounted on a rolling apparatus. The lens focuses the sun into a 1,600-degree point of light that melts the dry mud, transforming it into a black glassy substance. Over the course of a day, as the sun moved across the sky, a hemispherical arc was imprinted into the lakebed floor. The original performance documented in the video produced a 366-foot arc. The sculpture on view in the gallery was a 23-foot scale model of this mark, created using the same apparatus over the same amount of time, only traveling at a slower pace. Its reconstruction in the gallery simultaneously evoked the geologic record and an archeological relic. A Line Describing the Sun is part performance, part video work, part earthwork, and part drawing exercise.
This will be Lamson’s fifth one-person exhibition at Pierogi. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Indianaplos Museum of Art, and others. His work has been exhibited in the US and internationally, including at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IN), P.S. 1 (NYC), and Franklin Art Works (Minneapolis, MN). He completed his MFA at Bard College. Lamson’s outdoor sculpture, Solarium, is currently on view at Storm King (Mountainville, NY) through October 2012 as part of the “Light & Landscape” exhibition.