States of Change


There are fairly exact demarcation points where things change from one state to another. Water freezes at 32 degrees, turns to steam at 212 degrees, and becomes plasma at around 12,000 degrees. Horses go from a walk to a trot to a run at precise moments. Halsey Rodman never comes right out and says so, but in some sculptural-material way he’s an explorer of the ultimate demarcation point: The transformation of life into death and death into whatever.

The title of Rodman’s intellectually arresting, visually stimulating, borderline metaphysical if somewhat indeterminate exhibition at Guild & Greyshkul is “The Navigator’s Quarters Must Not Be Disturbed.” The sentence conjures a warning. On a more philosophical level it’s a caveat that might be from some ancient text or unseen force to would-be searchers for what was once called the Prime Mover.

The gallery looks like a toy-maker’s shop or the inside of a clock and is divided into thirds by a tall silver Styrofoam wall. Within each section are objects. The largest and most gripping is a prone double figure that looks like one body is hovering above the other. Elsewhere, there are bottles with plumes of aluminum-foil smoke, lamps, tables, honeycombed-patterned drawings, and several Möbius-like configurations.

Halsey’s work can sometimes seem disjointed and obscure. And there’s a sort of structural tension lacking at the core. Yet his art still manages to touch on the supernatural, science, the rituals of exhibition, and even the afterlife. It more than entices.