Light Duet
Ali Noble + Nadia Odlum
16/7/22 - 30/7/22

Michael Fried wrote that the experience of minimalism was indistinguishable from everyday life. Odlum and Noble’s Light Duet reflects or plays with this idea. Their work operates within quotidian materials and shapes native to the home and the street and brings them into the space of gallery to reconsider and reconcile.

The winks and nods to furniture and the spaces we occupy everyday makes them knowable. They carry an effortless presence, as Fried names it, one which requires no active upkeep to understand. But something tickles behind my eyes when I’m with these works. They hint at the invisible, they play with the viewer and our sensory responses. Crystalline glass turns to smoke; the glint of steel or aluminium, a shimmering weft of golden velveteen; these works choreograph light itself into a visible ballet. These illusions coil together into a world of their own.

Through manipulation and illusion, these works engage you in a dance - stalking, orbiting, pulling your body back and forth to animate their refractory qualities. At once they are present and illusory, two sides of a binary that Fried first thought to be diametrically opposed.

For Fried, minimalism is theatrical, in that it requires a metaphorical ‘raising of the curtain’– the entrance into the gallery space, the wall-plaque, the calling it art. Noble’s draped fabric of velveteen make the comparison between theatrical curtains or metaphorical gallery curtains with domestic curtains, hinting at how in the ‘ everyday’ we are faced with the ever-present illusion of domesticity and social dynamics within the home. 

Odlum’s floor piece continues this play. Two-way mirrored acrylic hangs where a sign would normally control the flow of foot and motor traffic through the urban landscape; perhaps the work’s presence belies how our bodies are already so used to performing contortions to move through our car-dominated landscape. This work provides the opposite of direction, conversely showing the audience their own feet, or disappearing into whatever’s behind it depending on the light. We’re animated along a ritual path, experiencing the object from all angles. 

Noble and Odlum have created an illusory world, one that is effortless to fall into; a world that makes sensible the invisible dance of light and sensation, and invites us to join in. We see how illusion and the everyday are two sides of the same coin, and constantly affect one another, again, like an endless dance. Enter, and do not stay still.    

- Harry De Vries