Jeffrey Vallance: The Medium is the Message
By Hunter Drohojowska-Philp
Jeffrey Vallance's serious work as a artist, which began while still attending high school in the San Fernando Valley, is defined by a consistency within an extremely varied and superficially innocent collection of drawings, sculptures, books, performances, videos and life adventures.
His current line of inquiry came from the fact that his grandmother, Nina Vallance, was a clairvoyant with a psychic shop in Long Beach. His exhibition at CB1 Gallery, The Medium is the Message, was inspired by an actual seance the artist had organized to take place by professional mediums at the 2010 Frieze Art Fair in London, which I happened to see. Before a packed auditorium, the mediums channeled the spirits of dead artists ranging from Leonardo da Vinci to Andy Warhol. I distinctly remember Jackson's Pollock's remarks from grave, complaining that everything was beige.
For this exhibition, Vallance created "spirit photographs" similar to those concocted in the 19th century that purported to capture otherworldly presences that could not be seen by mortal eyes. In large black and white photographs, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Marcel Duchamp and others are depicted in the presence of mysterious cloudy auras and symbolic aspects of the artist's life or art. Texts with observations from the original sceance are posted next to each photograph, a demonstration of faux objectivity. Ostensibly inspired by the findings of the seance, Vallance created relics for each artist including a reliquary for Duchamp containing pearl cufflinks. Like the best of satirists, Vallance's work is often rife with questions and observations that can be experienced as possibly sincere and possibly mocking. Read more here.