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Ellen Hazera

Art New England, Dec/Jan 2008 


McGowan Fine Art
Karl Drerup Gallery: Plymouth State University
The Jill Coldren Wilson Gallery : The Kimball Jenkins School of Art
Concord, New Hampshire
September 1 - October 12, 2007

By Craig Stockwell

Ellen Hazera This rigorously austere and exquisitely installed exhibit of language-based images is particularly striking (by contrast) in the ornate Victorian setting of the Jill Coldren Wilson Gallery at the Kimball-Jenkins Estate. This is installation work that moves through layers of presentation and meaning. On the surface we are presented with attentive and precise minimalist art that plays with image and word on intimately scaled aluminum panels, small photographs, and four video screens. The small aluminum panels that appear are serigraphed with images of fabrics, or analysis of images, and words engraved in English and French. There is a grey/black/white serious look to all the work. A plate and silver knife sit empty and suggestive on the mantle-piece in the room that refers to still-life. 

The exhibit presents four previously constructed installations that here fill four adjacent rooms that revolve around a central hall. The work is very consciously hung at just-slightly unusual heights and intervals. The mingling video-sounds (sound/music by Michael Hazera) and images create a second level of free associative input for the viewer. This project investigates language in the form of presenting common activities (making the bed, opening windows) in French and English explanations and voiceovers (Hazera is an American woman living and working in France, she is also a language teacher). I was struck by the commonalities and differences revealed by this word/language play…French windows open differently, beds are made the same. This work is art-wise in its layered references to painting and art history. Images of works by George Segal, Caspar David Friedrich and a well-known still life by the Spaniard, Juan Sanchez-Cotan (1602), appear and are examined. The still life analysis is accompanied by a video that mixes images and languages of the cutting and eating of an apple/pomme. Further levels are suggested by the restrained references to such metaphors of transcendence as windows, doors, cloudsÉall presented matter-of-factly, but allowed to carry their poetic capabilities. 

This beautiful work is anchored by care, presentation, thought and attention; it moves into art through the quiet use of the poetic and respect for the intelligent viewer’s ability to make un-directed connections.