"Kira Lynn Harris: Glittering Dystopias"
Reviewed by Caitlin Greenwood, Fri., Aug. 7, 2015
It's amazing what a coat of paint can do to a gallery. In the instance of Kira Lynn Harris' "Glittering Dystopias," it's the transformative power of a matte black nightscape that engulfs Women & Their Work's gallery walls. The exhibition strikes a distinctly new tone for the often-bright space: Now a moody scene unfolds with an overwhelmingly dark palette.
"Glittering Dystopias" divides itself into two distinct camps: one being Harris' pastel and paint site-specific illustrations, which create a megacity hybrid of New York, Dubai, and Detroit, culminating in a giant Tesla coil; the other being a site-specific found-object sculpture.
Harris' illustrative work simply conveys a medley of dystopian imagery. Buildings are fragmented into negative space against darkened gallery walls, with only white and gray shaded blocks to distinguish the metallic silhouettes against a night sky. (Harris refers to these as "broken grid drawings.") The urban environment and its contemporary evolution take center stage for "Glittering Dystopias" and Harris cites everything from Metropolis to Mad Max as influences. Her pulsating Tesla coil creates the impression of a mad scientist at work, but can also more largely represent the scientific breakthroughs that engendered our urban lifestyles.
"Glittering Dystopias" loses focus, and perhaps even momentum, with its sculptural inclusion. The work occupies a single corner, its Mylar, glass, and plastic components casting a distorted reflection of the surrounding light. The raw materials seem haphazardly linked and bear no mark of a dystopian apocalypse – instead, the sculpture feels too manicured for an exhibition that otherwise details the jagged ends of a culture post-collapse. Its decorative appearance distracts from the complex illustrations which are more captivating subjects, even in their simplicity.
"Kira Lynn Harris: Glittering Dystopias"Women & Their Work, 1710 Lavaca
Through Aug. 29