The ancient mirrors were manufactured of polished stone such as obsidian, and the earliest known examples date back to Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) at around 6000 BC. Numerous millennia later, we cannot imagine our daily lives without at least glancing at our own reflection using this omnipresent “invention”. Michael Brown continues his painstaking practice of recreating broken mirrors in an exhibition at Mike Weiss Gallery. There are several ominous superstitions revolving around the mirror and the most widely spread one is, of course, the bad luck which follows the person who might break one. Well, it is safe to say Michael Brown has laid upon himself years, even decades of bad luck considering the number of mirrors he had broken for the creation of his artwork, that is if you even believe in the superstition. In the meantime is the name of his second solo exhibition with Mike Weiss Gallery, and the 33-year-old artist hand-cut and polished stainless steel in order to recreate the intricate patterns of a broken mirror. The final products truly twist the viewer's vision of reality and entice a deeper gaze into the fragmented consciousness.
Ever since 2006, Michael Brown has been practicing this unusual approach which includes the actual breaking of a mirror, and then attempting to reproduce the result in stainless steel. Admittedly, there must be something rather satisfactory and stress-relieving in breaking something as precious and as delicate as a mirror, since the artist views this technique as an expression of his feelings of frustration and angst. The cracks made by the impact are never the same or identical; the flow of the lines, the intricate shapes and patterns generated by the brute force all form a mesmerizing concept which the artist attempts to recreate. The instantly gratifying moment of release when the mirror is struck is juxtaposed with the painstaking process of surveying and analyzing even the minutest cracks created. To the artist, stainless steel represents strength and efficiency, and as he stated, he likes to think he’s embarrassing the material with his own labor.
Each artwork in the show consists of hundreds of pieces of stainless steel hand-cut and polished by the artist. Through a meticulous process, Brown invests hours on end of manual labor to achieve the idea he wishes to convey. Even though the work is arduous, the final product does not seem to translate the difficult process behind it, the results do not seem perfectly created; instead, the material appears broken, shattered and distorted. Make no mistake, these artworks are pure works of installation art, immersing the viewer into the process of creating a narrative of the piece. As the viewer struggles to envision his/her own reflection through the fragmented image, it quickly becomes obvious that the only view they will get is a distorted, fragmented and misshaped one. A clear projection and unity of reflection were there once, but not anymore. The new vision is somewhat unnerving as it makes an itch in the back of your mind which you cannot scratch, but only get accustomed to.
A moment of sheer angst, rage and violence captured in a single boiling point when the fragility of a mirror crumbles under the impact, protruding an embroidery of cracks, lines and shapes. This short and immediate burst is eternalized in stainless steel in the works of Michael Brown. Exhibition entitled In the meantime, which continues the artist’s decade-long series, is on view March 31 – May 7, 2016, at Mike Weiss Gallery in New York. Have a look at your own reflection projected through an intricately designed piece of art, gaze into the center of the fracture and discover something beyond perfection and symmetry. The spiderwebbed composition of Michael Brown’s installations will hold your gaze and twist your vision to disquietude.
All images courtesy of Mike Weiss Gallery
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