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Space is the place at Vox Populi

Nadia Hironaka
Beautiful backyard scene in Nadia Hironaka’s Crack. Note the satellite dish, air conditioner, tv antenna (?). The mix of old and new, the voyeuristic view through the window, the snapshot of a time and place that tells nothing.

Space — internal, external, fairy tale and architected — is on the table at Vox Populi this month. Looking at the work here, I kept feeling like Marty McFly in Back the the Future when Doc would explain the space/time continuum. Sure, Doc, whatever. Let’s just get this jalopy moving. It’s apt that space is an issue though since Vox the gallery is once again moving its tent, displaced by the powers that be who would expand the Convention Center over to Broad St. Now that’s an uncomfortable place to be in!

Nadia Hironaka
‘s spacey piece, Crack, will have you look through her eyes at Philadelphia and the possibility of murder in the neighborhood — yikes! I watched her video piece, riveted, eating up each on-the-edge-of-abstract scene as it dissolved into the next with no apparent logical connective tissue. Each beautiful dissolve or tracking shot left me hungry for the next. I almost didn’t care about content my eyes were so satisfied. I had never thought the Jeremy Blake thought about Hironaka’s work before I saw this piece, but as I watched one abstracted image after another I wanted the artist to simply let fly and abandon all caution. Go abstract and make beauty. Let the imagery sing and dance and don’t worry about narrative. It’s just a thought.

Corey Antis
Jen (l) and Dustin, two Tyler senior painting students peruse the model-esque styrofoam shelters created by Corey Antis, Vox member and Tyler grad.

In his small paintings and sculptures Corey Antis is working a theme having to do with shelter and the lack of comfort therein. There is something loveable about the styrofoam packing material shelters. I thought about James Casebere’s photos of forlorn cave-like spaces when I looked at the works. Antis’s paintings are harder to decipher. Their failure to leap into some fantasy zone holds them back from transporting you with the artist into an imagined space.

Xiang Yang
Xiang Yang’s Buddha says.

Xiang Yang continues to intrigue with his East-West embroidery thread hybrids. Buddha is the ostensible subject in this installation. But it’s Buddha seemingly whooshing forth from the wall, a cartoon-trail of colors following him. It’s not your grandfather’s Buddha. The crafting of the piece is, as usual, virtuosic. And that craftsmanship calls into question the entire enterprise of crafting embroidered objects in the Orient. Whatever else this installation is about I find that the artist is going confidently forth in ways that break him thankfully out of the plastic deli box to which he was wed for a couple of years. Xiang’s work is in part about the artist feeling out of time, out of place and out of his culture. That he is able to create a hybrid East-West space that also merges old and new (traditional imagery and cartoon “speed” lines) bodes well for the continued milking of his subject. I look forward to watching where he takes it.

Diana Al-Hadid
Brooklyn artist Diana al-Hadid, in Vox’s fourth room, creates an anthropomorphized sculptural city and its little brother or sister. The two-part sculpture which is full of references to the ancients — Roman aqueducts, walled medieval cities, Louis XIV decorative gold leaves, Michaelangelo’s Sistene Chapel image of God touching Adam — has the presence of a diva or dancer in the spotlight. It’s hot! I kept thinking of a whirling dervish with skirts flying in its self-created wind. The piece is exciting, dramatic, and great to look at, whatever it’s about.

I didn’t get to watch the video in the video lounge and perhaps someone else can chirp up about that. The show’s up to Sept 30 so get on over there. Vox always delivers the goods and this show is no exception.