Artists: H - Z: Mark Khaisman
On Tape: My works are pictorial illusions formed by light and shadow. Tape allows for images that communicate what I'm interested to do in a very direct way.
My medium consists of three elements: translucent packing tape, clear acrylic panels, and light. By superimposing layers of translucent tape, I play on degrees of opacity that produces transparencies highlighted by the color, shading, and embossment.
There are some qualities of tape that make it unique for me as an art material: its banality, humbleness and its “throwaway” nature; its default settings of color and width limiting my freedom; its unforgiving translucency – no mistakes can be hidden; the cold and impersonal attitude that tape surface suggests.
On Process: I apply a stripe of brown translucent tape on a clear backlit acrylic panel, and if I don't like it, I peel it off. If I peel off less frequently than apply, a chance is that an image emerges. The whole process is reminiscent to the red room photo development in the pre-digital era, in a way, as my hands do the job, and my mind is witnessing the appearance of the image, then the only concern becomes to not under - or overdevelop it. Though I try not to lose control completely, I am not aware of every move I am taking, so by the time the piece is done, I don't exactly know how it has happened, so I feel compelled to start a next image to make sure that I can do it again.
On Layers: Layering tape, and even peeling it off, gives me a strange satisfaction. The only explanation for it I can offer comes from the Eastern cultural perception of the self as an onion, according to which if you peel off the outer layers of the onion you find more layers underneath. It makes you want to peel off more, and more, and more to find the pit, but when you finally peel it off to the very last layer you are left with nothing. I do it in reverse, but the feeling that it is only the different direction of the same process feels liberating.
On Motives: To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, “the medium is the message,” my take on “the tape as the message” could explain the superficial motives, which make up the work. Once the implausible nature of my work is accepted, one can begin to think about the meaning. The latest is born as the result of superimposing material and images chosen to be portrayed.
MARK KHAISMAN’s new series of work "Birkin Bag" references his fascination with archetypical objects and their stories. The subject of this series is based on Birkin bags by Hermes. The works play with the iconic object’s reputation of being made of skins from endangered species, high prices and elusiveness.
On Tape Noir Series: Growing up during the Cold War on another side of the Iron Curtain, I became familiar with the Film Noir movement years after my immigration to the US. Out of all narrative patterns of Film Noir I like to mention two, resonating with my aesthetic sensibility the most: The Notion of Noir - Storyline constructions around fateful consequences of obsessions are remarkably similar in most Films Noir movies. Typical Noir characters are victims of coincidences. All these coincidences include the coincidence that you, the viewer happen to be there together with the narrator. Noir invented the particular notion where the very act of watching creates a space that neither belongs to the world of the watcher, nor the characters, the notion of sustained uncertainty - the Notion of Noir.
The City of Noir - From movie titles to the recurrence of figures falling from buildings, bridges, and staircases, it’s becoming clearer to me that movies are dealing with the urban environment in very particular ways. Characters are involved with living spaces, or losses of them, as if these spaces were alive. The Metropolitan City is not only the symbolic terrain in which drama happens. From stylized versions of the city at night to documentary–like reports of the city in midday, the City itself is one of the central figures in noir’s story pattern – the City as night vertigo itself, the City as the space of imagination and suspense – The City of Noir.
Most images in my Tape Noir Series are fragmented small-scale portraits of noir’s basic characters: cool and cynical investigators, femmes fatales, criminals by design or default and victims of fate - the most interesting and original of the genre’s anti-heroes. Because movie characters are frozen in time, it is not always clear who is who. Images are plotted out so that each image is part of a larger narrative pattern. The goal is to form abstracted compositions in light and shadow that still are carrying the essential film noir touch of confusion, instability and a little danger.
My light boxes are designed and built to precision as confined spaces or sealed-off environments where images “take place”. They might be seen as windows, or mirrors, or signs, or airless rooms, or narrow alleyways – the forming elements of the Imaginary City.
On Portraiture Series: The Tape portraits are based on my pictures: friends, relatives, neighbors, and strangers. My particular goal of this series is to “surf” on the wave of the unstable balance between the individual and the archetypical. As is the case with all of my backlit works, the result is visible only when illuminated. In case of the portraits, it becomes a meditation on the fragile and temporary nature of human existence.
On the Chairs Series: The Louis 15th period furniture for me is one of the most beautiful things humans ever created. It is also one of the finest samples of how rewarding it might be to force materials to behave against their nature. In this sense the use of packaging tape as an art material can be seen as a continuation of centuries long tradition. The Chairs are drawn in sketchy manner, as a quick study, an exercise on the term “suggestive precision”.
Born in Kiev, Khaisman studied Art and Architecture at the Moscow Architectural Institute, Moscow, Russia. His recent exhibitions are: Wallingford Art Center; Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA; Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany; BYU Museum of Art, Proto, UT; and more. He has been the recipient of many awards and works are found in the collections of: Brandywine Trust Collection, Philadelphia; British Airline Collection, London; Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington; NBC Collection, New York; Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany; West Collection, Philadelphia, and more.