james pinson/Stephen Maas 
  maas 3


'Noiseless Cracking'

Galerie Fernand Léger, 
Centre d'art d'Ivry.
Ivry-sur-seine, France.
26 March - 9 May, 2004

'Noisless Cracking'  refers to a powder of the same name that is used to 'blow up' or 'break down' rocks and concrete.   It acts very slowly and silently, by distension, swelling in cracks, breaking down material surreptitiously.  Furtiveness and stealth are recurrent conjunctions in this exhibition by Stephen Maas and its title is an appropriate motif  bringing into focus what seems, at first glance, to be a diverse set of works.   At the core of  Maas' s practice is a dual concern; the pursuit  of sculptural,  formal and plastic objectives and a metaphorical dimension based in language and association.  The forms and conventions associated with the plinth, the base and the stand are cogent in a set of  plywood 'stages' that extend into the space.  They are empty and their height and provisional construction are an open invitation to be places of rest for the spectator.  They project alongside or from the walls like jettys or catwalks underlining a horizontal axis in the exhibition.  In the main space and framed by these stages, are three associated works, 'Other Horizons, 2004'  N°s 1 to 3.  Each is a configuration of four  sheets of aluminium, distressed with acid, slotted together in two groups of two sheets, parallel to each other with one pair slotted on top of the other.  The surfaces of the metal at once face the spectator and obscure other objects.  Hidden within this structure are contrasting forms and materials, a chunk of blue polysterene, an embroynic wax  figure. On the edge of this installation are  'Eyeless' and '(S)HELL.  'Eyeless'   are two poles, hung from the ceiling and on which are wax letters which spell 'Noiseless Cracking' (that is except for the 'i's, hence the piece's title).  The language game and the allusion to formal construct seems to be the touchstone for the ensemble.   'Noiseless Cracking' as a readymade haiku for 'Eyeless' is as much at work in 'Other Horizons' but more in terms of  readings along an axis of vision and blindness.  
However the sculptural dimension of these works belies their real residue and value as a slow play between sense and form,  peculiarly modulated between the extremes of  pathos and bathos.

James Pinson