The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Aug 23, 2012

Ryan Parker provides a lot to find at Space 1026

Posted by CSchwartz

Ryan Parker is displaying a number of prints at Space 1026 for his show “Finder,” which is nothing short of a-maze-ing. Contrived puns aside, the black-and-white structures Parker creates are both eerie and inviting in a way that only the puzzle of a labyrinth or ancient structure can be.

Ryan Parker, "Loc 2."

Most of the prints on the walls are relatively small – less than three feet wide – but one massive, wall-sized version of the smaller images takes its place near the windows of the gallery. Bathed in natural light from outside, the transfer drawing exists in a way that one would not expect if it were a real location. One would certainly anticipate a sort of dim, musty setting instead.

The interior scene comes across as somewhat foreboding and humbling. Lines on the floor trail across a lengthy room to a vanishing point on the opposing wall, but the entire space defies any attempts to judge its size. Faceted walls surround the open area and appear as if they were constructed from some type of wooden planks or even slabs of stone or concrete. The lack of detail also helps keep the association of specific materials rather vague, and ultimately the empty place takes on a sort of mystical calmness. These feelings are not quite reassuring, but yet they beckon the viewer in, latching onto humans’ innate curiosity.

Untitled 2 Ryan Parker, "Untitled 2."

All of the smaller prints depict parts of similar interior scenes. The difference lies in the many variations that exist within each individual image. Each print shows these rooms from a multitude of different angles and perspectives, bowing the lines and vanishing points this way and that. The rectangular pictures contain a few smaller versions, which butt up against one another and sometimes overlap in a montage of different views.

Overlook Maze Ryan Parker, "Overlook Maze."

One image helps to tie up all of the loose ends of the show into one helpful little package, and it just so happens to be the smallest print in the show. “Overlook Maze” is exactly what it sounds like: an aerial shot of a maze. Presumably, all of these other enclosed spaces are areas within the maze, which operates as a sort of allegory for goals and the striving (or failing) that goes along with them. We are all “Finders” in our own labyrinthine existence, working every day to get around the next corner. Sometimes we find what we expect, other times crossroads that we did not, but we always discover something new.

Space 1026 is located at 1026 Arch St., Philadelphia; 215-574-7630;

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