Threshold

Threshold premiered as a series of projections along Exchange Alley and an exhibition at Hall-Barnett Gallery on this alley in the Vieux Carre of New Orleans. This body of work later appeared in the Contemporary Arts Center’s Transparent Object Exhibition, and solo exhibitions in North Adams, Massachusetts, and St. Louis, Missouri, and Lyon, France.

“Jan Gilbert has long employed mass media techniques, with layers of mechanically reproduced images combined in a single work. Her focus has been the communication process itself – how we see what we see in order to know what we think we know. This approach is at odds with the traditional art history of ‘precious objects.’

“Gilbert’s exploration of an ordinary, even tawdry reality dissects not merely the image, but the mechanics of perception along with our assumptions about art, objects and reality. Her painterly surfaces and gilt-framed images turn those assumptions inside out, as what we reflexively anticipate as yet another precious object turns out to be a desolate flea market on a bleak stretch of Canal Street – an outpost of consumer society at its most marginal. A flea mart called ‘…art.’

“So Gilbert’s Threshold is a kind of a joke, but it’s quite a serious joke, a satire that functions as an x-ray of the vital systems of seeing and knowing, one that peels back layer upon layer of codes of cognition, perception and communication. But only if we take the trouble to think about it.”

Eric Bookhardt, Transparent Object Catalogue

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