Having seen Laura Fritz's art steadily over the past few years—in a pair of minor installations and scattered throughout some great group shows—I half-expected Evident, her first solo show in Portland since 2003, to be a spectacular culmination of her work to this point. Of course, she doesn't work in grand gestures. Her work is elemental and discreet; it demands viewers recalibrate their senses for subtlety and lyricism.
Her austere videos, like last year's "Interspace" at Quality Pictures, use little more than the play between light and shadow to create ghostly odes to the ephemeral. Her sculptures—frosty, translucent forms that Fritz often situates in mirrored cases—affect in the same way. Looking something like petrified Saran wrap or the ice-crusted surface of a frozen puddle, these glinting objects threaten to simply melt away. Evident further explores these themes, but here Fritz uses the physical parameters of the gallery itself to, quite literally, draw the viewer into the work's meditative space.
Consisting of three objects in a darkened gallery, Evident is far more concerned with facilitating the fantasy of the glimpse than a naked, unperturbed gaze. Two pieces of unadorned furniture flank the space: a small table and, at the opposite end of the gallery, a large cabinet. Both invite viewers to peer into them, but make no concessions to reveal what they actually house. An opening in the table exposes a mirrored drawer and a handful of Fritz's glassy objects tucked inside, barely visible. In the darkness, their shapes are vaguely sketched by what little light is caught by their reflective surfaces. The door of the cabinet, on the other hand, remains barely ajar, seemingly containing a lightless void. But the installation's centerpiece is a small box, modified with mirrors and lenses, from which one of Fritz's videos scatters across the space's walls and buffed floors. As such, a pair of white orbs hover like twin moons on the south wall, as flies flit in and out of view. Unrelenting in its contemplative quiet, Fritz seems to want to reacquaint us with silence, that unsung casualty of the information age, so that we might see the physical phenomenon of the world—light, shadow, reflection—with fresh eyes.