Jumping through the Mirror
Sometime in 1967, the expatriate Australian conceptual artist Ian Burn had a revelation when, like a sleepwalker awoken, he discovered his mirror pieces were not alone: 'I recall my surprise when I realised how many other artists were using materials like mirrors, glass and clear plastic ([Robert] Morris, Robert Smithson, Michael Baldwin, Keith Sonnier, Joseph Kosuth.)'1 Burn's recollection of this moment—in his book Dialogue, published in 1991, midway between then and now—inspired this exhibition.
Mirror is the surface par excellence of late modernism. Its paradoxes confound the illusion of transparency—indexing the instabilities of perception, while offering the possibility of reflexivity. As Burn observed, 'a mirror produces not only an event or a piece of self-conscious theatre, but also deflects visual attention away from the object itself. Like [Ad] Reinhardt's paintings, mirrors and glass have a low level of visibility.'2
Mirror Mirror: Then and Now extends beyond the company of 1960s and ʼ70s international minimal-conceptual artists by including contemporary Australian artists who reference and play with their legacy. It considers some of the implications of stepping into the zone of low visibility that a looking-glass offers.
Jumping through the mirror
I wonder if I'm here
This ordinary mirror
That's the mother of all fear
Mirrors have long haunted Western art. Throughout the history of painting—in works by those such as van Eyck, Parmigianino, Velazquez, Manet, and Magritte—mirrors have been used to reflect upon representation, puzzling out the intersecting roles of artist, spectator, and voyeur.3 However, it was only in the late twentieth century that mirrors began to figure as a ubiquitous material in art. They first surfaced in the laboratories of the 1920s avant-garde in experiments that pursued a new type of spectatorship, particularly in cinema and photography. In Ballet Mécanique (1924), Fernand Léger and cinematographer Dudley Murphy appear reflected in a mirrored ball; Marcel Duchamp set the opening titles of Anemic Cinema (1926) on a pair of diagonal mirrors; and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy and other Bauhaus staff and students used mirrors to 'see the world with entirely different eyes'.4 Florence Henri even fashioned a form of cubist photography out of mirrors in the late 1920s. Yet something different took place in late modernism, when the act of looking at looking became, if not a fetish, more like 'the demand that one recognise how little is left to work with',5 as Art & Language put it.
I look at my reflection
On the other side.
There is no connection
But the father of all lies.
Early mirror-pieces had a quality of stealth and deception. Mirrors enabled shock encounters by stalking their unsuspecting audiences. For instance, in several of Robert Rauschenberg's 1954 combines small inserted mirrors operated as a 'hide-and-seek booby trap'.6 Rauschenberg's use of actual mirrors was preceded by his White Paintings (1951), which John Cage famously described as 'airports for shadows and for dust' and 'mirrors of the air'.7 Rauschenberg worked at the limits of visibility, creating a theatre of self-consciousness that anticipated what critic Michael Fried came to lament as 'decadent literalist art'. In fact, because of the way it includes or confronts the beholder, a mirror-work would represent Fried's worst nightmare. It would implicate 'the entire situation', lining up squarely on the side of 'objecthood' in the battle between idealism and materialism that would consume modernism in the late 1960s.8
I see my brilliant double,
I'm sure that it's not me:
A rival that means trouble
He's messed up with jealousy.
Yet, the battle-lines were never that clear. Robert Smithson dabbled in crystallography and various forms of 1960s primitivism in his assault on formalist aesthetics. His series of regularly stacked mirror-pieces, from Mirror Stratum (1966) to Untitled (Mirror-Glass Quarter-Stepped Pyramid) (1969), diverge from the standard account of minimalism by not only eliminating the beholder but by modelling other things. Smithson spoke of becoming 'more and more interested in stratification and the layerings. I think it had something to do with the way crystals build up too.'9 With their mirrors stacked symmetrically and diminishing in size, these works read simultaneously as macro and micro, as crystal structures and ancient architecture, both modelling forms of entropy. For instance,when placed on top of one another, the mirrors' illusionistic property is largely withdrawn, generating a compressed green light, more sci-fi than science.
Another type of entropy is realised by Michael Baldwin's Untitled Painting (Mirrors) (1965), which is 'both a near perfect blank (an end-game painting surface) and something which can almost never be blank'.10 While Smithson disabled the mirror's reflective function, Baldwin (who, in 1967, began to work with others in Art & Language) fixed a mirror on top of a canvas to stand in for painting. A related series, Drawing (Typed Mirrors) (1966–7), in which typed text fragments disappear into a reflective surface, strains a reader's desire for sense. With great difficulty one can retrieve the battles of the day—between, say 'Stella, etc [who] offer a final solution to the problems that they have set', and a reading of 'the Tractatus [that] points out not that the problems are insoluble but that the solution, however definitive, demonstrates its own initial inadequacy'. However, such quoting undermines the entropic play of words that are warped by their silvery medium.
A more earth-bound vision appears to underpin Smithson's floor-piece, Rocks and Mirror Square II (1971). Eight rectangular mirrors placed horizontally, back to back, create a low open square. They are held in place by basalt rocks—like those on railway tracks—piled on either side. Unlike other minimal mirror-works, such as Robert Morris's 1965 mirrored cubes, Smithson's square resists occupation. The spectator can only ever see a partial view, including fragments of feet. Its reflective geometry pulls the immediate surrounds into the work to define a hollow bunker of disorientating parts, with the interior reflection deepened by a green cast. Smithson used the concept of 'nonsite' to describe such displaced earthworks: 'here the site/nonsite becomes encompassed by mirror as a concept—mirroring, the mirror being a dialectic.'11 A tension exists as much between the mirrors and the sightlessness they induce as between the natural materials and their displacement from site. Smithson liked to quote Jorge Luis Borges, who incidentally was mirror-phobic, because he shared the desire 'to design that ungraspable architecture'.12
A man watching the man
Watching the man
When Burn saw Mirror Stratum in the 1967 New York exhibition Art in Series, he was struck by its accompanying models and sketches, and copied down Smithson's text, 'A Partial Description of Mirror/44'.13 These descriptions and diagrams suggested a way for Burn to give some visibility to his own mirror-pieces, which, by 1968, included a dozen quite different types of work—from a single sheet of glass framed over a mirror, to Xerox Book, to an Acetate/Mylar Mirror Piece. A photograph taken at that time, in his Sixth Avenue studio/loft, shows a version of the latter work taped up adjacent to one of his shiny Blue Reflex paintings, doubling its reflection. Acetate and mylar, being imperfect mirror substitutes that increase distortion, were becoming as interesting to him as painting because they could just as readily catch the contingencies of place, ambient light, and movement.
Another Burn mirror-work, never previously exhibited, is Dissipated Mirror (1968). It consists of an ordinary-looking rectangular wall-mounted box that resembles a bathroom mirror (complete with handle) that opens as a hinged diptych. A mirror on the left side, held by clips to a back panel, faces a panel covered with impasto brushstrokes, like those on a Robert Ryman painting, in metallic-silver. When the panels are obliquely angled, their stifled doubling confronts the viewer with a dilemma of not only where to look—caught between the painting and its reflection—but also with the quandary of exactly where the work resides: reflection-as-reflection or reflection-framed-as-art?
Watching the man
Watching the man …
The artists using mirrors that Burn noticed in the late 1960s were orientated to minimal-conceptual practices, yet the use of mirrors was not limited to a particular project or movement. For instance, Michelangelo Pistoletto, later associated with Arte Povera, came to use mirrors as an extension of his painting, just as Smithson, Baldwin, and Burn did. After all, a sheet of glass backed with silver has certain features in common with a painting. In 1962 Pistoletto substituted his highly reflective paintings for polished-steel surfaces onto which he stencilled (and later silkscreened) contemporary figures and objects, producing a battery of trompe-l'oeil effects.14 Lo Specchio (The Mirror) (1974) represents an ornately framed, symmetrically positioned shaving mirror printed on reflective steel. Its circular face—an anthropomorphism that aptly fits its entire wooden stand—is the only part that does not reflect, perversely frustrating viewers' expectations by presenting them with a blur where they would usually expect to find their head.
Prints by New-York-based Japanese artist Shusaku Arakawa combine reflective materials with language reversals as part of his investigation into 'the gradual creation and erosion of objects through names.'15 The paradox of mirrors even pressed Roy Lichtenstein's pop art towards abstraction, as he explained: 'There is really no convincing way to portray a mirror, because a mirror simply reflects what is in front of it. Cartoonists have used diagonal lines and slash marks to tell us they are rendering a mirror and we have come to accept these symbols ... Many times I photographed a magnifying mirror because a magnifying mirror, when it's out of focus, produces abstract shadows and shapes which gave me ideas for the mirror paintings.'16 The British pop artist Richard Hamilton confesses that 'the most telling thing about mirrors is that they inevitably touch the ego ... my reflection shocks me, it is even repellent.'17 His Palindrome (1974) ingeniously deflects the narcissistic impulse of self-reflection by directing attention back to the mirror. His gaze, fixed on the point where his raised right hand 'finger paints', dramatises the act of doubling. The unformed blobs of paint on its surface distract from Hamilton's highly crafted illusion, which is achieved with a 3-D camera and the trickery of 3-D postcards.
Kinetic artists like the Paris-based Argentineans Hugo Demarco and Julio Le Parc, who worked as part of Groupe de Recherche d'Art Visuel (GRAV) in the 1960s, experimented with optics, light, movement, and highly reflective surfaces. They also introduced intense colour effects into the otherwise colourless world of mirrors. Le Parc's Continuel Mobil (1966) comes with a selection of mobiles and reflective backdrops. Its translucent coloured squares of plastic shimmer, double, and blur with the slightest air currents. Demarco's Métamorphose (1963), a wall-mounted box with a motorised convex mirror, turns a foreground row of rainbow dowels into a vertiginous pool of liquid colour. These works, purchased from Galerie Denise René, were first seen in Australia in early 1968 when the Power Collection was launched in Harry Seidler's modernist glass tower at Australia Square.
Dashing through the mirror
With my eyes open wide
Forehead first and then my fists,
Through to the other side.
In the early 1970s, artists exploring the new technology of video often engaged its novel capacity to transmit live images, turning the monitor into a mirror. The performance-artist Joan Jonas speaks of the mirror as 'my first technological tool ... and a metaphor for my reflective investigations',18 the effects of which were used to transmit light, fragment space, and confront viewers with their own (gendered) habits of looking. In one of her early videos Left Side Right Side (1972) Jonas divides not only her face in half, drawing a line along its biaxial line of symmetry, but also turns the monitor into a mirror, playing off non-reversed images and reversed images, both in chalk drawings and through her body. At one point Jonas hesitates before the monitor/mirror in naming her left from right, caught in the confusing puzzle that Immanuel Kant first posed: 'What can be more similar in every respect and in every part more alike to my hand and to my ear than their images in the mirror? ... Not withstanding their complete equality and similarity, the left hand cannot be enclosed in the same bounds as the right one (they are not congruent); the glove of one hand cannot be used for the other.'19
Two other women artists exploit more feminine terrain with hand-held mirrors that play with a more intimate scale of reflection. Yoko Ono's A Box of Smile (1971), with a mirror concealed under its small lid, is interactive—you provide the smile. This enigmatic object recalls those that Alice encountered in Wonderland, such as the 'little glass box that was lying under the table: she opened it, and found in it a very small cake on which the words "EAT ME" were beautifully marked in currants.'20 While Ono's box does not offer hallucinogenic transformations, it draws a willing participant into play. Engraved with the Cyclops's single eye, Meret Oppenheim's fetish object, Love of Polyphemus (1974), plumbs darker myths. Two Greek tragedies converge within this looking-glass, as Narcissus finds not the object of his own desire but the giant's organ.21 If narcissism represents an unchanging condition of perpetual frustration, Oppenheim compounds the horror.
Looking back across this spectrum of historic mirror pieces—from the hypnotic optics of kinetic art to the metaphysics of neo-dada and surrealism—it becomes clear that it was only in minimal and conceptual practices that mirrors came to mark a crisis. These pieces concern seeing in the most commonplace sense and, by accentuating the ambiguities of that activity, they insist viewers question the role of spectatorship itself. Art & Language suggest that a desire for a more social practice also lurks in such mirror-works, for 'a queer consequence of speculation ... about invisibility or dematerialised objects ... [means] the author or artist is no longer alone; that a socialised base of art just might be developed ... As a necessary internal development of the work.'22
A man watching the man
Watching the man
Peter Cripps provides a bridge of sorts to the contemporary Australian artists in the exhibition, being directly implicated in the crisis. His practice is marked by a critical (and, at times, almost paralysing) relation to the art museum and earlier avant-gardes. In the early 1970s he gained first-hand knowledge of minimal-conceptual art, as a curator, by installing and reconstructing work by such seminal figures as Sol LeWitt and Yvonne Rainer.23 Cripps's attention to museum-language led him to observe its curious landscape terms: 'A painting hung high on a wall is said to be "skied", when low on the wall it is described as "floored" or "grounded".'24 These conventions became part of his material with the Construction series (1975), which used improvised materials, such as small cardboard containers and metal cans, projecting from the wall in the place of painting—these works often being either skied or floored. These unprepossessing objects, frequently with small round or square cosmetics-compact mirrors attached, produce disquieting effects. As Carolyn Barnes observes, 'like optical devices ... they became agents of spatial definition but also purveyors of spatial illusion ... These objects appear as flat, geometric shapes, squares, circles floating in space, their actual distance from the wall difficult to define.'25 The viewer only notices their low-level effects when moving, as these 'uncosmetic' wall pieces punctuate and fragment the normal parameters of a space, while drawing attention to ambient, peripheral, and infrastructural supports. Cripps described the Construction series as part of an ephemeral, socially engaged 'recession art'—based on 'limited means of production, speed of production, and small size of constituent units'26—which enjoyed a largely underground presence over the following decades.
In 1990 Cripps launched another marathon series with mirrors. Public Project (Fiction) (1993) marks a shift in scale and production-values; replacing recycled wall attachments with tall, freestanding modules inspired by the constructivist towers of the Soviet brothers, Georgii and Vladimir Stenberg. Their Konstruktziia Prosannogo Sooruveniia or KPS (Constructions of Spatial Apparatus), which filled the extraordinary Obmokhu (Society of Young Artists) exhibition in Moscow in 1921, used the language of technology in 'prefabricated components of engineering construction ... such as a bridge or crane'.27 Cripps's vertical units are structurally leaner: two schematic rhomboid planes joined by diagonal bars, assembled from standard lengths of painted wood, more like an IKEA kit than sculpture. Each supports a convex surveillance mirror or two. The mirror's convexity turns the skeleton struts of its base into a mannered geometry—an echo of modernist sculpture before it lost its plinth and the other trappings of an individually hand-crafted object. While the constructivists imagined their explorations would eventually become the basis for some new architecture, Cripps's title acknowledges that for the most part his works' fate is to be left stranded between the domestic art market and the desire for a broader public.
Watching the man
Watching the man ...
If Cripps's work arises out of the tensions between painting and sculpture, Callum Morton's early work Home (1995–6) is a Frankenstein combine transplanting unlike genres, in his words, 'the materiality of mirror-glass architecture inside a bastard or generic version of a Federation Arts and Craft sash window.' As Morton continues, 'this early combination and conflict of type has remained significant.'28 Such hybrid objects merge with architecture, throwing into contention their immediate context. By coupling the language of serial modules with a pop vernacular, he turns the museum wall into a haunted suburban landscape.
Another artist working out of the miscegenation of minimalism and pop art is Alex Gawronski, whose pair of mirror cubes are suspended at eye level, each with an open base. One is pierced by a slit, the other by circular holes, giving each a transparency that 'counterpoints the reflectiveness of its mirrored surface'. As a form of armour—helmets or masks—they reflect 'potential assailants while offering "symbolic" protection only'.29
I see my brilliant double,
I'm sure that it's not me;
A rival that means trouble;
He's messed up with jealousy.
Mirrors are the skin of modern urban architecture, but they are also ubiquitous in domestic interiors. Robert Pulie evokes this intimate space with a dressing-table 'vanity unit'. Pulie describes W (2007–9) as 'a concrete pun as you are seeing two reverse-mirror-reverse reflections of yourself ... mirrors at ninety degrees ... maintain a true (not reverse) reflection of the viewer ... because (as I learnt in high school science) the angle of incidence = the angle of reflection, and the two reflective surfaces are at ninety degrees to one another.'30 W offers an uncanny experience, by allowing the viewer to see a semblance of themselves as others see them, by reversing the mirror image, visually posing the conundrum of what appears to be natural. While functional and unadorned, its concertina arrangement recalls the cross-mirrored surfaces of art deco, a fascination that Pulie shares with Smithson—who wrote that in the ultramodern 'of the thirties, that multi-faceted segment of time, we discover premonitions, labyrinths, cycles, and repetitions that lead us to a concrete area of the infinite.'31
Another mirror set that alludes to art deco design's tricky geometry is Robyn Backen's phone booth. It triggers early media memories by using a single piece of retro-communications technology, a Bakelite telephone, with an abandoned voice from the era of black-and-white TV in its earpiece. A euphoric spin on the physics of mirror optics as 'a very enchanting thing' is delivered by the TV scientist Julius Sumner Milner, who, back in the 1960s, turned the captive living rooms of Australia into a school-room laboratory. Such enthusiasm for the science of optics also underlines Burn's diagrams and Pulie's apparatus.
I look at my reflection
On the other side:
There is no connection
But the father of all lies.
Some contemporary mirror-works continue to evoke connections to forms of modernist painting. Jacky Redgate's Light Throw (Mirrors) I (2006–9) recalls certain momentous events in twentieth-century abstraction, from the early Farbenlichte-Spiele experiments of Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack to the blurred paintings of Gerhard Richter. Her new work is part of a decade-long project. It began with photographs of plastic containers abstracted against mirrors in a shallow white space, and ended as a massed still-life laid out on a mirrored floor with each plastic module 'plugged' with a custom-made mirror cap. Redgate observed that the work 'threw light on the ceiling ... like a Bauhaus composition ... denying the volume of the object.'32
In the new work these incidental light effects are intensified. A large-format photograph is made out of nothing more than the reflections of many small mirrors, multiplied by a battery of repeated flash exposures. Circular and rectangular pools of light loom out of a black field, glowing like crystals with soft edges. Such blurring is counter-intuitive to the sharp focus generally associated with photography. It is, however, not so different from the effect of looking hard at mirrors, pace Burn, who wrote 'the mirror surface demands concentrated effort, which may be assisted by focusing on imperfections, dust, smears, haze, steam (that is, by the mirror's inability or failure to be a perfect mirror).'33 When viewing Light Throw (Mirrors) I, the eye involuntarily attempts to pull the shapes into focus. Yet, because they refuse to sharpen or resolve, this creates a sensation of optical pulsing like that of kinetic art.
Christian Capurro's mirror-works, while not exactly paintings, are painted with the awkward medium of typist’s correction fluid. In White Breath (Passenger) (2009), a congealed welter of small, thick, unexpressive brushstrokes covers a pair of full height wardrobe mirrors. The only parts of the mirrors left exposed are narrow bands running around the edges. Along these thin strips, fragments of movement are caught in brief hyperactive flashes, exaggerated by ambient light seen against its dense but luminous white field. The work's covering implies a process of concealment more like Mel Ramsden's Secret Painting than a Ryman white painting. Does Capurro’s effacement stand in for some primal scene, like the claustrophobic interior at the heart of Nabakov’s Lolita: 'there was a double bed, a mirror, a double bed in the mirror, a closet door with a mirror, a bathroom door ditto, a blue-dark window, a reflected bed there, the same in the closet mirror, two chairs, a glass topped table, two bed tables, a double-bed: a big panel bed, to be exact, with a Tuscan rose chenille spread, and two frilled, pink-shaded night lamps, left and right.'34 The very act of covering, if nothing else, flirts with the possibility of concealment. Like all of Capurro's work, White Breath (Passenger) hovers between psycho-drama and phenomenological readings.
Another kind of painting is acted out by Eugenia Raskopoulos in Diglossia (2009), a sequence of eight black-and-white photographs. Like Hamilton's Palindrome, it emphasises surface over reflection, with the artist using her finger to draw letters on a mirror. Each photograph records the moment after she has made a letter in the condensation spelling out an indecipherable name—a rapidly drawn 'X', a wide sweeping 'U', the Greek letter '∑'—though the lines drip and lose their distinct shape almost instantly. The artist is present—naked but barely discernable in the background—overwritten by language and obscured by the glowing misted glass. The series has been described as 'a familiar topos where word and body co-exist in mutual support.'35 Yet these mirror images appear to jeopardise the relations between language and the mother-tongue, representing the loss and effacement of translation. Like Capurro's work, they also seem to hover on the edge of some unspeakable horror, reenacting a primal site of Hollywood fear, of the naked woman caught alone in a steamy shower.
Jumping through the mirror,
I wonder if I'm here;
This ordinary mirror
That's the mother of all fear.
It is almost half a century since Burn first recognised the mirror phenomena surrounding him. Now mirrors appear ubiquitous, a quotidian medium for many artists. Yet being commonplace has not lessened what Mikala Dwyer has termed the 'shifty' quality of mirrors, particularly 'the way they disappear into their context.'36 Dwyer's IOU (2009) configures those letters as large 3-D mirrored objects in slapstick style. It employs the grammar of minimalism, and, like Judd et al., each specific object has 'a relatively uncomplicated three dimensional composition ... based on a square, cubic or rectangular format ... the simple forms are not complicated by dynamic or unstable arrangement, and nor is there any added ornament.'37 Yet, unlike minimal art, Dwyer's units spell out a message, not exactly a real word, but slang for being in debt. She explains, 'I think of the IOU as very shifty ... the suspension literally of a promise as it rests undelivered.'38 So, who or what is being owed? Toni Ross has cautioned that Dwyer 'invents scenarios that incite rather than terminate the desire of interpretation ... the medium registers an indeterminate or unknown other, one that is not simply a mirror of prior knowledge or context for the viewer.'39 Could IOU be a reflection sent from the present back to a moment of crisis in the 1960s? Or is this a stretch of the curatorial imagination that turns all to smoke and mirrors?
The intention of bringing these mirrors-works together was to see new correspondences reverberate between them. In returning to an era when the mirror became not just a looking-glass or a readymade, but, at its most extreme, implied an invitation to the viewer to join in all kinds of risky end-games, the exhibition asks whether that game is over. The crisis of late modernism is now thoroughly contaminated with multiple forms of eccentric abstraction and the metaphysical, as mirrors have become part of a recurrent vocabulary for a new generation. Perhaps this is the cost (or achievement) of minimal and conceptual art: that it has allowed practices to emerge from the breaking open of what once seemed a highly circumscribed set of possibilities.
The title, 'Jumping through the Mirror', is taken from one of four mirror songs written and released by The Red Krayola with Art & Language on Sighs Trapped by Liars (Chicago: Drag City, 2007). The lyrics of the song appear throughout the essay in bold.
1. Ian Burn, 'Glimpses: On Peripheral Vision', in Dialogue: Writings in Art History (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1991), 191.
3. See Svetlana Alpers, The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), which compares the different role of mirrors in Italian and Dutch traditions. See also the classic account of Las Meninas in Michel Foucault, The Order of Things (New York: Random House, Vintage Books, 1973), 3–16.
4. In the early Pathé film, Lebendige Spiegelbilder (Living Mirror Images), a character comes into the street holding a large mirror. Each time a passerby is reflected in it, the mirror brings the reflection to life and sends it back into the street to pursue its terrified owner. See Yuri Tsivian, Early Cinema and its Cultural Reception, trans. Alan Bodger (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 5; and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Painting Photography Film (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1967), 29.
5. 'Art & Language Paints a Picture (A Fragment)' (1983), reprinted in Art in Theory 1900–1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, ed. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), 1025.
6. Rauschenberg inserted a distorting mirror in Minutiae and a shaving mirror in Charlene (both 1954). Yve-Alain Bois, 'Eye to the Ground', Artforum 44, no. 7 (March 2006), 245.
7. 'John Cage Discusses 4'33"', San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) website, http://www.sfmoma.org/multimedia/audio/aop_tour_402
8. Michael Fried, 'Art and Objecthood', Artforum (Summer 1967), reprinted in Art in Theory 1900–1990, 823. In Artforum, Fried's essay was published alongside essays by two of the most renowned artists using mirrors at the time, Robert Morris and Robert Smithson.
9. Robert Smithson, interview with Paul Cummings, in Jennifer L. Roberts, Mirror-Travels: Robert Smithson and History (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004), 42–5.
10. Art & Language, Art & Language Works 1965–1978, 2007–2008 (Knokke-Zoute: Mulier Mulier Gallery, 2008), 9.
11. Robert Smithson cited in Robert Hobbs, Robert Smithson: A Retrospective View, (Duisburg: Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum Duisburg, 1982), 52. The 2004 Robert Smithson survey included five related works from 1969 that each paired mirrors with a single material—chalk, shells, soil, rocks, and salt. See Eugene Tsai, ed., Robert Smithson (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004), 162–7.
12. Robert Hobbs, Robert Smithson: A Retrospective View, 33.
13. The Art in Series exhibition was curated by Elayne Varian at the Finch College Museum of Art/Contemporary Study Wing, 78th Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan, November 1967. For The Field exhibition, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) did not hang the text panels, and in the accompanying catalogue the mirrors were photographed to reflect the modernist architecture of the new gallery. While largely invisible in The Field, when the NGV marked a new extension with Fieldwork in 2002, Burn's mirrors returned as museum classics, and were reproduced in the publication as flat grey monochromes with no reflections.
14. While Pistoletto's Mirror Pictures projected Arte Povera beyond the Turin avant-garde, Romy Gollan's recent research on their circulation in 1960s Italian design and architecture journals proposes 'evidence of a new bourgeoisie anxious to embrace a new consumer world during the years of the so-called Economic Miracle.' Romy Gollan, "Chances are there will be ... potted plants": (Considering the Early Photographs of Michelangelo Pistoletto's Mirror Paintings: An Exhibition Proposal) (New York: James Gallery, CUNY Graduate Centre, 2009), np.
15. Shusaku Arakawa, 'Notes on my Paintings', Arts Magazine 44, no. 2 (November 1969), 29.
16. Roy Lichtenstein, 'A Review of My Work Since 1961: A Slide Presentation', in Roy Lichtenstein, ed. Graham Bader (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009), 62–63.
17. Richard Hamilton, 'Reflections', in Richard Hamilton Collected Words 1953–1982 (New York: Thames & Hudson, 1983), 108.
18. Joan Jonas, 'Transmission', in Women, Art and Technology, ed. Judy Malloy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003), 117.
19. Immanuel Kant, 'Prolegomena to All Future Metaphysics', cited in Martin Gardner, The Ambidextrous Universe (London: Penguin Press, 1967), 159–65. Kant concludes: 'These [mirror-image] objects are not presentations of things as they are in themselves, and as the pure understanding would cognize them, but they are sensuous intuitions, i.e. phenomena, the possibility of which rests on the relations of certain unknown things in themselves to something else, namely our sensations.', 165.
20. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland (Ringwood: Penguin Books Australia, 1971), 31.
21. Oppenheim may also have been drawn to the Polyphemus story for its word-play. Ulysses deceived the Cyclops by calling himself 'Noman', so, when Polyphemus cried out 'Noman is killing me', no one came.
22. This forms part of a commentary on early Art & Language mirror-works that begins: 'The interest in mirrors rested in the fact that the mirror produced the perfectly 'transparent' image—its medium is, pace Panofsky, physical reality itself—something other than its surface—but this does not mean that you cannot be aware of the surface of the mirror itself however difficult that is (as Ian Burn pointed out).' Art & Language, 'Moti Memoria', in The Impossible Document: Photography and Conceptual Art in Britain 1966–1976, ed. John Roberts (London: Camerawords, Camerawork, 1997), 62–3.
23. In 1973, when Cripps was Assistant Curator of Exhibitions at the NGV, he installed Some Recent American Art, a touring exhibition of minimal and conceptual art organised by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Object and Idea, the exhibition of new Australian art.
24. Cripps continues, 'When the "field painting" developed in the 60s the word "field" or "ground" was used to denote that part of the horizontal plane below the horizon line represented by the artist.' Peter Cripps, 'The Idea of Endless Space', in Stephen Bush and Janet Burchill (Penrith: Lewers Bequest and Penrith Regional Art Gallery, 1988), 3.
25. Carolyn Barnes, 'Specific Objects the Second Time Around: Two Installations by Peter Cripps', in Binocular, ed. Ewen McDonald and Juliana Engberg (Sydney: Moet & Chandon, 1992), 102.
26. Peter Cripps, Recession Art and Other Strategies (Brisbane: Institute of Modern Art, 1986).
27. Chrisina Lodder, 'The Transition to Constructivism', in The Great Utopia: The Russian and Soviet Avant-garde (New York: Guggenheim Museum, 1992), 276. The constructivists held their first exhibition from May to June 1921 under the auspices of the Obmokhu (Society of Young Artists), featuring Rodchenko's hanging constructions hovering over structures by Georgii and Vladimir Stenberg, Konstantin Medunetskii, and Ioganson. Lodder suggests that the Stenbergs's four pieces were 'conceived as explorations towards the realisation of actual buildings'. Cripps's work was triggered by the acquisition of four Stenberg models by the National Gallery of Australia (see Michael Lloyd and Michael Desmond, European and American Paintings and Sculptures 1870–1970 in the Australian National Gallery (Canberra: Australian National Gallery, 1992), 132).
28. Callum Morton cites Jeff Wall's essay 'Dan Graham's Kammerspiel' as a major source 'about the materiality of glass (its vampiric qualities) in relation to Philip Johnson's glass house that was most important. It describes the shift from day to night when transparency (the view of the landscape) gives way to reflection (the confusion that multiple reflections of the self generate). I lived inside a form of 70s Modernity and this was a beautiful description of the feeling one had as a child in this house.' E-mail to the author, September 2009.
29. Alex Gawronski, e-mail to the author, September 2009.
30. Robert Pulie, e-mail to the author, May 2009.
31. Robert Smithson, 'Ultramoderne', in Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, ed. Jack Flam (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 63–5.
32. Jacky Redgate's series Straightcut (2001–6) was followed by her installation Edgeways (2008), exhibited in her 2008 solo show Visions from her Bed at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane.
33. Ian Burn, Looking at Seeing and Reading (Sydney: Ivan Dougherty Gallery, 1993), np.
34. Vladimir Nabakov, Lolita (1955), (London: Penguin, 2006), 134.
35. Ann Finegan, 'Eugenia Raskopoulos: Language at the Scale of Bodies', Eyeline 69 (2009), 43.
36. Mikala Dwyer, e-mail to the author, September 2009.
37. David Batchelor, Minimalism (London: Tate Gallery, 1997), 8–11
38. Mikala Dwyer, e-mail to the author, September 2009.
39. Toni Ross, 'The Trouble with Spectator-centred Criticism: Encountering Mikala Dwyer's Art with Eva Hesse and Minimalism', Eyeline 35 (Summer 1997–8), 27–33.
[image: Mikala Dwyer]