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Jeffrey Vallance: “The Medium is the Message”

By Andrew Berardini

September, 2015

Jeffrey Vallance "Kahlo Spirit Crystal" 2015

Jeffrey Vallance, Kahlo Spirit Crystal, 2015. Wood, metal, plastic and natural crystal, 10-7/8″ x 5-7/8″ x 5-7/8″.

Iconic LA oddball Jeffrey Vallance here became a barker for channeling famous artists, asking them questions through renowned mediums, concocting artworks from their directions and advice. Duchamp, Van Gogh, Pollock all spoke up, but it was Frida Kahlo’s words that sparked some incidental poetry, “In spirit you … you break a million pieces of glass and crystal and the light shine all over. That is art. Vallances depictions have all the gaudy goofiness of circus posters, but his Kahlo Spirit Crystal (2015), a small wooden box topped with a crystal (with a small switch to turn it on) has a strange and artful beauty.

With strange mysteries of the hidden world so regularly discovered, one can imagine 19th-century crowds looking for a metaphysician to reveal the invisible ghosts with spirit photography and ectoplasm, channeling and crystal balls. Without a whisper of empirical data, the bullshit and quackery of such actions seems almost implicit in our data-driven time, but with nothing to prove but aesthetics, this elaborate performance with each of the mediums allows Vallance not a platform for proof but certainly one for art.

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