Elizabeth Tinglof at Shoebox Projects: Spiritual, Dazzling Illusions

By Genie Davis, Diversions LA Feb 11, 2019


The exhibition title is Won’t Pray, but the exhibition itself is incredibly spiritual. Transforming Shoebox Projects into a kind of meditative, spiritual consciousness during her December residency, LA-based artist and curator Elizabeth Tingloff created a dream-like space of highly tactile materials.


Abstract objects are strongly textured and yet ethereal; representations of some existence beyond our own, both alien yet highly recognizable. The well-curated exhibition gave the viewer something to look at in every corner of the Shoebox space. An upside down tree is tied to the ceiling with coiled wire as subtle and silvery as snakes. Below the branches – or roots, your choice – the tree is reflected in a kind of upside down world of mirrored puzzle pieces. It is real, but it is illusory. Like life itself.


Coiled wires also emerge from single pieces suspended on the wall, black against gold, like a dazzling treasure framed by circles of darkness. It looks transcendent, yet trapped. Several pieces in this material configuration, but in a variety of shapes and textures, are included in the exhibition.


Others wires spin like vines, dangling above, within, and below silvery teale-blue rectangles hung from a hook as if they were slabs of meat. They dangle above the illusion of a precipice created by a smaller grid of mirrored squares. And yet others spill from a second wall piece that is emerald green, crumpled fabric caught within another black frame.


There are elements of sci-fi, of futuristic worship, of a world gone inside out; and the sense of entering another realm, a kind of subverted fairy tale.


A pod-like shape, gold crusted, partially opened, stands at the front of the room. What emerged from this cocoon? A birth? Vestigages of faith? A reason to dismiss all hope and prayers?


An old-fashioned kneeler, the kind lapsed Catholics grew up up on while gazing into the faces of implaccable saints, stands in one corner, its kneepad a goregous series of painful metallic circles.


Each of the works here could be unpacked by individual elements; layers of meaning like a face behind a veil behind another veil are barely glimpsed at first look, yet the overall effect of the work, even without searching deeper, is mesmerizing. Many pieces have a jeweled quality, mirrors, gold, metallic bits, the silver and black wires.


Tinglof’s work reaches into and flips around the ideas of accepted truth and self-examination. What are we praying for, if we do pray? What is the reason for our prayers or our agnosticism? What is going on in our world? What is our world? All of these questions – and doubtlessly many more – emanate like beams of light from within a mix of painting and sculpture.

In both the positioning of the art around the gallery, and the way in which each piece seems to dialog with another – gold to emerald, blue to silver – there is a passionate exhortation of color and form, something vigorous and questioning everywhere a viewer looks.

This is not a first such exploration for the artist. The found of Joshua Tree-based Rough Play Projects and co-founder of LA’s Rough Play Collective, her work has long focused on on delving beneath surfaces and into the nooks and crannies of beliefs. Tinglof has also worked as a photo journalist and video documentarian; her insight into the precariousness of our world and our belief systems seem grounded in fact.

The exhibition overall was as if one stepped through a looking glass – and looked long and hard inside oneself. And from there, found the visceral images from Won’t Pray suggesting we examine the “why” in our lives and the world at large.

Photos courtesy of Shoebox Projects.

Source: Diversions LA