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Elaine Duigenan’s Micro Mundi and Odette England’s As Above So Below at Klompching Gallery (Brooklyn, NY)

On June 17, 2010 Klompching Gallery opened a beautiful duet of a show featuring the work of Elaine Duigenan and Odette England. Together, the works sing of a connection between heaven and earth and provide the viewer with a means to contemplate life and to transcend the travails of the day. All twelve of Duigenan’s series and six of the thirteen images in England’s series were on display through August 6, 2010.

ELAINE DUIGENAN, who lives and works in London, presents us with Micro Mundi and gives us a view of earth from the heavens. However, the sinuous lines of Duigenan’s images leave room for viewer interpretation. We are freed from conventional maps. We are free to imagine a map of our own interior world and to navigate whatever journey we may be upon. As it turns out, our cartographers are small snails who chisel out a trail as they eat their way across a field of algae on an abandoned caravan (what we call a camper trailer in the U.S.). Each tiny worker is driven by unseen forces to construct its own pattern. Duigenan artfully selects constructions that create an entire cosmology, their own small world. We see a river delta (Aqua Amazonas), a cloud-covered bay bordered by the twinkling lights of a city (Manus Dei), or a newly cut trail through the forest of a discovered place (Terra Nova). In her statement Duigenan points out that the “rasping action of a spiky tongue” creates “patterns in nature [which] seem to replicate on both micro and cosmic scales. Small etchings on the side of a derelict building can look like entire swathes of earth in a satellite picture.”

While Duigenan uses traditional film to capture the work of these creatures, she uses modern technology to create the final presentation. She has developed a special procedure to print the images on Hahnemuhle paper with an inkjet printer. The blacks are rich and deep as the pitch-black sky. Upon examination the prints have a velvety quality, yet the trails have a very sharp definition.

ODETTE ENGLAND, born in Australia but lives and works in London, like Duigenan, creates a conversation between heaven and earth. The title of England’s exhibition, As Above So Below, refers to the cultural belief of indigenous Australians that the sky and earth are the foundation of all creatures. To convey this concept England selects a single location in the primal desert, photographs the sky immediately above and the land immediately below and combines the two images in an obvious but unexpected single image. The resulting interplay of images that compares the similarities and differences between the two extremes while creating something new. Thus, clouds and desert both exist in a single plain, and both are subject to light and shadow. However, the ethereal nature of one allows it to be combined with the concrete nature of the other, resulting in an entirely new image.

In one image clouds printed over a dusty desert floor maintain their identity yet appear as filtered light on the desert floor. The inclusion of feathers of a bird on the desert floor is an ingenious way to remind us that there is something in between. In another image the clouds become a frost on the ground. In yet another image the blue of the sky and the wispy forms of cirrus clouds transform a rocky desert floor into a riverbed with crystal clear water rushing over river stones and breaking into bits of white water.

In the works of Duigenan and England the world above and the world below are combined into one harmonious union. Debra Klomp and Darren Ching of Klompching Gallery have most astutely presented us with two photographers who show us two ways to see both the world and ourselves at the same time