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Ryan Burghard
Portland Pataphysical Society
Recommendation by Richard Speer

Ryan Burghard, "In the Black Nothing Between," 2018

Continuing through July 13, 2018

Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s short story, “Haunted House,” about a ghostly couple lingering after death in their former home, Ryan Burghard’s exhibition, “Whatever hour you woke,” focuses on traces of things we sense but cannot see. Like Woolf’s purgatorial lovers, the impaled bumblebee of “The sun will not illuminate” is both present and non-present, palpable and ethereal. Similarly, the unseen flame in “Seeking fire” has left its charred imprint and waxy residue on the gallery wall, while the chalk mark of “In the black nothing between” points toward the scuffed hardwood floors at the gallery’s entrance.  

The actor who made these marks, Burghard himself, remains invisible to the viewer, his actions ascertainable only by induction — a performance artist in absentia. This conceit is even more pointed in “The mind is its own place,” a Styrofoam cup the artist obsessively massaged until it became so pliant he could turn it inside-out without it cracking. A lath-and-plaster piece titled “Facing silence” was cut from an early twentieth-century office building and plugged into a hole in the gallery’s wall.  Sun-stains and nails attest to framed images that hung on the original wall for decades but are now lost to time. To heighten the exhibition’s eerie atmosphere, Burghard frosted the gallery’s windows, so that even the bustling avenues outside become opaque, mysterious, and inferred.

Portland Pataphysical Society

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