In most of Karen Henderson’s recent work there has been some kind of condensing/conflating/cross-indexing of the way that time is registered visually. There have been two inter-related main trajectories: one is an on-going series of consecutive photographic images (often film or video stills) printed onto clear acrylic, which are then sandwiched together to form a solid block, inside which all of the stacked images are visibletime as volume. The other trajectory involves site-specific, gallery installations, which usually document the gallery itself. This reflexive relationship between the work and the space it documents complicates the viewing experience, shifting it towards an area of experimentation for the viewer, by collapsing where you are and what you are seeing into the same thing.

“Solid Light (YYZ Walls, North 20 minutes, South 24 minutes, East 26 minutes, West 26 minutes) encompasses both these areas of concern. In the middle of the YYZ gallery is a plinth, on top of which 4 acrylic rectangular blocks are placed so that each of their inside corners are touching. Each one is made up of 26 sheets of acrylic fused together. Each sheet has a photographic panorama printed on it a composite image of the gallery wall it is placed in front of each panorama recording an array of consecutive moments in the walls temporal existence.

The second part of the title, YYZ Walls, North 20 minutes, South 24 minutes, East 26 minutes, West 26 minutes, refers to the time it took to take all of the photographs in all of the panoramas that make up the block of a given wall.

How more-past to more-present relates to the spatial coordinates of the blocks depends on from what perspective you view them. You could think of the construction formed by the four blocks as a kind of maquette of the gallery the space in the middle of the blocks is about 1/20th the size of the gallery floor. Looking through an acrylic block towards the centre of the maquette, the acrylic sheet closest to you contains the photographic images shot furthest away in time to the present time in which you’re viewing it. From this point-of-view you are looking through the acrylic from less recent moments of the gallery wall behind you to more recent. If you were to imagine yourself standing in the middle of the maquette looking through a block to the wall it documents, you would be looking through layered records of time from the most recent past to the perpetual succession of present moments that the actual gallery wall exists in; virtual thens and real nows fusing together in a continuous all-at-once.

KAREN HENDERSON is a visual artist working in time-based media, photography, sculpture and site-specific installation. Henderson grew up in Scotland, leaving there to attend the Central School of Art and later Camberwell School of Art in London, England after which she completed her MFA at the University of Victoria, British Columbia in 1988. She has lived and worked in Toronto since 1989 and has exhibited work in Canada and internationally at various galleries including the Art Gallery of Ontario and The Power Plant.

Read ANDY PATTON‘S Karen Henderson’s Temporal Objects, an essay about KAREN HENDERSON‘S exhibitions.