The general rule of thumb for displaying art is to craft an environment that enhances the viewing experience: white walls, strong light, and un-encroaching architecture. So it's a welcome break from the norm that Brooklyn-based sculptor Diana Puntar's An Hour on the Sun is turning that concept on its head with a presentation that effectively inhibits viewing. Every Thursday night, small A is offering nocturnal viewings of Puntar's work, which is partially composed of glow-in-the-dark materials. Predictably, whole portions of the sculptures disappear without light. But, on the other hand, the darkness alters the impact of the work.
The reference to the sun in the exhibition's title is somewhat misleading. Yes, the sculptures do glow, but, in light, they exude a sense of frigidity that is more lunar than solar. Not only does Puntar work with cold industrial materials including laminates, and aluminum, she also carves foam into eerie, oblong forms that look like rocks retrieved from the moon. There's ample tension between textures: The sleek contours of ubiquitous commercial materials boldly contrast the porous, beaded surfaces of the hand-carved foam.
More disorienting, though, is that Puntar uses this combination to create work that connotes domestic interiors, from mirrors and chandeliers to stools and coffee tables. The effect is a bizarre mixture of '70s kitsch and sci-fi, as if Donald Judd had obsessively studied the set design of Logan's Run. For example, "The Last Thing I Remember" features a bulbous, flower-shaped piece of foam that emerges from a semi-circle of interlocked laminate panels. Sea green and pocked with tiny craters, the form is instantly recognizable as a flower and the ring of panels is unmistakable as a vase, but its appearance is entirely otherworldly. Similarly, "Candy-O" and "Sunday Morning" dangle like light fixtures. But where one would expect to find a filament, there is a carved, glow-in-the-dark mass. It seems that for Puntar, home is a place where even the most familiar objects—and materials—are recast as alien.