The Jim Hodges exhibit, “Give More Than You Take,” now showing at the ICA in Boston is compelling, reflective, emotional and shiny. There are many parallels in his work over a period of time, evident through the use of thematic and repetitive patterning using everyday objects. Upon entering the show, I encountered a three dimensional stained glass piece that had an eagle as the centerpiece of the composition. The rest of the room was filled with various spherical shapes on the walls and in the corners comprised of shiny mirrored tiles forming mosaic patterns that are similar to that of spider webs; patterns that also resemble the positive space within the reflective light of the installation “The Dark Gate.” The reflective light created by the mirrors coupled with the multi-tonal music playing in the background creates a feeling of uncomfortable sublimity.
The next gallery I wandered into contained, “With the Wind,” translucent pieces of fabric sewn together with attached artificial flowers. On the accompanying wall there are more artificial flowers attached only to the wall with no fabric. In this same space there is one strand of garland made of the flowers stretching from the floor to the ceiling. Further into the exhibit, “You,” repeats this process as a fully woven sheet. At this point I am completely confused by all of the flowers, webs and mirrors. I notice the illuminated blue room with a spider web shape comprised of chains spanning the graveyard like gate, preventing the viewer from entering the room.
As I rounded the corner there are many charcoal drawings—some I did not like at all. Then I saw the phases of the moon. I liked this piece, and because of it, I finally understood. This is all about the passages of time and the phases of things. Not necessarily the isolated moment but the journey of many moments. As I moved through the galleries this idea followed me.
There is a text piece with all the words cut from photos, while adjacent to it is a clear acrylic skull illuminated by white light. I associated this with some type of ransom and another type of death; this is where mortality begins to creep in. This show takes that emotionally sick feeling death can bring into a person’s mind and twists it into a beautiful process. The music is no longer playing.
It is right after this I encounter “The Dark Gate”, my favorite piece of the entire show. The gallery is pitch black with a large pine box, containing saloon style doors and an unshaded light bulb, it is the only light to illuminate the space and fills up the entirety of the box. Upon entering the box, I was confronted with a radial pattern consisting of metal spikes—shiny and sharp—filling the frame and all pointing to the center. The center consisted of negative circular black space, I wanted to touch it. It was difficult to focus on what was on the other side, similar to the feeling I get when viewing work by Anish Kapoor. I exited the box through a pair of saloon doors and followed a dark path around it. It is here I am stopped in my tracks, struck by the beautiful illumination of the shadow the radial spikes threw on both the floor and a nearby museum guard with the charge of keeping watch over the installation.
I laughed out loud. It is right in this moment everything collided. When you are in the box you can only see what is in the box and when you are outside of the box you can see in the box and all around the box. This means the guard heard all of our conversations and speculations about the negative black space. The introduction of this voyeuristic dynamic is interesting to me. I am not sure if this was a request of the artist or if it is institutionally driven—either way it is funny.
As I exit, “The Dark Gate,” I am led to a large gallery. I immediately see two pieces constructed the same way with two different materials. “On Earth,” constructed entirely of mirror tiles on canvas, and “You”, made of paint chips from color swatches. Both were treated in a mosaic like process and appear to be pixelated. This is a common theme among the similarities and the differences within the work, the use of patterning, material, process and repetition. Hodges succeeds in having a cohesive show that reflects a message of sublimity, mortality and the process of moments within the passage of time.

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