There are a number of worthwhile shows up at Bergamot Station at the moment, but none pack the visceral wallop of Zadok Ben David's Blackfield. Appropriated from Victorian botanical illustrations, some thousands and thousands of black laser-cut steel silhouettes are evenly spaced over the gallery floor. The perfectly smooth thin layer of sand these plants "grow" from adds to the water-starved weedy lot effect. The large rectangular installation allows enough room to circumnavigate the display, and when one views the piece from the other side, Ben David provides us with another uncanny moment, as the obverse of the miniature sculptures are airbrushed with a rainbow of greens, blues, yellows, and reds. While the work exhibits both fragility and monumentality, randomness and precision, it also touches on man's pseudo-scientific attempts at making sense of the natural world.Detail of Zadok Ben David's Blackfield, 2008
recapitulation theory to phrenology, the way things appear have been used to support the status quo, as colonial powers have collected and categorized everything from the Victoria Water Lily to the Hottentot Venus. Ben David presents us with a dichotomy: the monochromatic and the chromatic, science and art. In the end it is up to us to evaluate and interpret, making sense of the world presented before us.
Zadok Ben David's Blackfield is on view at Shoshana Wayne Gallery in Bergamot Station through May 16.