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William Koone: 10:10 at City Limits

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Colin L. Fernandes reviews William Koone’s solo exhibition 10:10 at City Limits gallery in Oakland, California.

William Koone. 10:10, 2016; installation view, City Limits, Oakland. Courtesy of the Artist and City Limits. Photo: Kristine Eudey

William Koone. 10:10, 2016; installation view, City Limits, Oakland. Courtesy of the Artist and City Limits. Photo: Kristine Eudey.

For his exhibition at City Limits gallery, William Koone ensnares the viewer in a game of deception. The show is titled after the practice in commercial photography of depicting watches fixed at 10:10, the symmetrical hands creating the illusion of a smiling timepiece. Six sculptural works are included; all make sly reference to a photographer’s studio and the capacity of photography to mislead.

The first piece encountered is a knife impaled dart-like in the gallery door frame, its blade inscribed “PENTAX.” Around the corner, two playing cards are affixed to the wall with a nail; one bears the Canon logo. A pair of sizable floor-based works is positioned across from this piece. Each consists of an S-curved copper frame onto which is clamped a sheet of Plexiglas—one white, the other black. These pieces approximate “product scoops,” devices used to photograph objects against a backdrop of infinite whiteness or blackness. Stenciling on the copper trusses alludes to popular camera brands and slogans from dated camera ads. Diametrically across, a set of C-stands supports six circular mirrors, forming a silvery two-tiered sculpture almost eight feet tall. Four stacked “blacklight blue” tube lights in the corner are the final work in the show.

I found this exhibition to be insidiously unsettling. The art beguiled me with its beautiful strangeness, yet the longer I looked, the more my perceptions became distorted. This was especially true for the curvilinear black Plexiglas piece, which dominates the gallery with a portentous presence. Its obsidian-like surface, at once dense and reflective, unhinged my grasp of depth and space. The fractured, mercurial reflections in the C-stands and mirrors heightened this disorientation. Even the seemingly innocuous tube lights manipulated my vision with their cobalt fluorescence. In hindsight, I should have seen it coming—Koone had signaled his sinister intent at the gallery threshold with the knife.

The late Edward Weston opined that “only with effort can the camera be forced to lie: basically it is an honest medium.” [1] In his show, William Koone shrewdly repurposes studio ephemera as curious instruments of stealth and trickery. In so doing, he shines an allusive light on the illusory possibilities of the photographic image—and invites viewers to ponder why we might be subjected to such efforts of duplicity.

William Koone: 10:10 is on view through April 2, 2016, at City Limits, Oakland.

Colin L. Fernandes is a physician, writer, and collector. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Contra Costa Times, a Penguin anthology, San Francisco Arts Quarterly, and the online magazines Art Practical and Daily Serving.

[1] Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York: Picador/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973).

This article, William Koone: 10:10 at City Limits, first appeared on DAILY SERVING Articles.