COAGULA ART JOURNAL | june 2002

Selected Memories and Obessions
Barbara Hashimoto at Ruth Bachofner Gallery

by Elizabeth Sale

Barbara Hashimoto’s recent exhibition at Ruth Bachofner Gallery explores time and process. Eschewing the finely-honed conceptual basis of her last solo exhibitions in Los Angeles and Chicago, she incorporates sculpture, photography, installation and performance within a single exhibition as a brave invitation to visit the artist’s mind. During this visit we encounter memories, fixed as a tranquil snap shot of a single moment, or laced within the obsessive activity of a new thought.

At one end of the gallery are two groupings of large format photographs. The images, from installations of manipulated room interiors constructed in Japan in 1991, are intriguing glimpses into the artist’s interior world. The photographs go beyond mere documentation, providing the resolved stillness of selected memories cropped by the camera’s lens and edited more than a decade after their occurrence

The sculpture and installation in the exhibition are linked by an obsession -- the repetition of a single typewritten phrase. The centerpiece of this activity is an installation / performance which addresses the process and ritual of obsession. Old manual typewriters, which the artist played on as a child, are lined up on a long pedestal at the far end of the gallery along side a single video monitor of comparable size. The video is a repeated loop of the artist hand typing this single phrase; the sound track emphasizes the pattern of this same line typed again and again, adding additional layers of aural and visual repetition.

The performance, a collaboration with director, Susan Tobiska, occurred intermittently throughout the exhibition run. It involved the repeated typing of this phrase within the context of the installation with an entrance and exit into the gallery derived from the artist’s studies of the tea ceremony and Butoh. The process of typing a single line over and over thousands of times must be laden with drudgery and boredom. Yet in Hashimoto’s precise, meditative, trance-like performance we get an understanding of the heightened awareness that occurs through repetition over time. What Hashimoto so aptly brings to light through this performance, is the obsession of the artist, an almost denial of reality, which is, in a way, selective memory of the present tense.