March 9, 2008

Charles Cohan's terminal hieroglyphs

"In what may be the smallest art gallery in the United States, you can discover the whole world." Blake Gopnik reports in The Washington Post. "Or at least its airport terminals. Atlanta, Berlin, Vilnius, Bangkok, Calgary -- all up there on the walls of Curator's Office in Washington. Charles Cohan, a 47-year-old printmaker and art professor based in Hawaii, has transformed diagrams of these terminals and 43 others into a room-filling installation called 'Airfield.' Each terminal is represented by a simplified aerial plan of its facilities, turned into a clean black shape and printed onto a 22-inch square of fine paper. 'I've always been interested in the way in which knowledge is ordered and codified,' says Cohan, 'and in its translation into the artistic medium I'm working in.' His almost-abstract prints, with their luscious blacks, can look as much like letters or symbols or hieroglyphs as like diagrams of actual structures. Cohan is also fascinated by the high-security 'nether zone' of the airport terminal itself. He cites 'the contradiction between the supposed freedom the airport represents, in terms of arrival and departure and transport and travel, and yet within that there is increasing security and surveillance. With the luxury of the freedom of travel, there is anxiety in the hub or epicenter of that travel, which is the terminal.'"

1 comments:

The "Terminal" series is virtually identical to a series I did several years ago called "Terminal Diagrams." My images were done in encaustic and were exhibited in a gallery in Healdsburg, California.
--Mike Hoover
mikal1@comcast.net