Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

recent entries

Giving Thanks Readings
Meet RACC's new leader Madison Cario
November Reviews
Early November Links
Spooky reviews
Countdown to Portlandageddon?
Mid October Links including PNCA/OCAC merger talks
Paul Allen, philanthropist and arts champion dead at 65
Midwest Art Initiative Tour
Haunting October Picks
End of September News
September review cluster

recent comments



Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Openings & Events
About PORT

regular contributors


Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Emily Cappa
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Jesse Hayward
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Drew Lenihan
Victor Maldonado
Christopher Moon
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman



Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005

contact us


Contact us






powered by


Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a


Creative Commons License

Monday 03.23.09

« Escaping to and from New York + links | Main | Art films: last installment »

Animals and Icons : Cliff Evans at PCC Cascade Gallery

Empyrean (
Still from Empyrean 5 Channel Video Projection, Cliff Evans 2007

Empyrean n. 1. The highest heaven; specif., a) among the ancients, the sphere of pure light or fire b) among Christian poets, the abode of God 2. The sky; the celestial vault; firmament

Cliff Evans' video installation Empyrean, on view until the eighth of April at PCC's Cascade Gallery is a digital amalgamation of our collaged culture elements. It is a pictorial representation of a synergistic future, collected and compressed. Evans' piece is a brave new world arrived and tanned, full of our apparent ideals of the artists claims to be our 'empyrean'. Based on evidence versus theory, the video presents five separate frames which concurrently move towards the viewer in what appears to be an endless parade of progress. Evans has gathered images of soldiers, busty beauties, political pundits, and dinosaurs to represent history as well as the constantly accelerating race towards the ideals of the global empire of the future. Each new frame displays itself with a peacock's pride despite its content or holistic irreverence to the idea of the soul or the sacred. Any animation within each piece is extremely artificial and marionette like. These choice bits move through the space of each frame like puppets and rightly so-Evans does not hold these characters (the pillars of our society -Brangelina- what not) in high regard; they are at the mercy of their own game. This is Evans' social commentary in high and lo-fi. In most art works this simple method of amalgamation does not usually work; a plus b plus c does not always simply equal d. Yet the removal of our everyday imagery from its context and posited next to itself and artfully arranged is as powerful a social commentary as a Sarah Palin imitation. Evans has literally melded the disparate parts of what we are now to create his art in a sort of sugary yet morbid warning. It is almost too easy, as the physical content is so prolific and blaringly at hand.

Evans' piece is particularly nice to watch, because we can really ask ourselves, "Is this what we really want?" His piece stops the record with a loud scratch; a few fall off our treadmills because we've lost the rhythm, yet most of us keep sweating towards the carrot of the ideal presented everywhere and endlessly. Animals and Icons flaunt themselves in their desert vs. orange grove playground dichotomies. Opposites are emblems on each side of a coin flipped and called in a child's soft game; the consequences willy nilly because each result is essentially the same. Construction, bloody disintegration, meat and coastal condos bloom like the Fibonacci sequence, and all is fertility and industry, skin and artillery. This is all the same boiling suntan of our Dubai/American wet dream, Evans' tells us, and it's just so pretty. This is where our ambitions and hard work are taking us; we've bought into it. This is our empyrean, Evans says.

Empyrean (
Still from Empyrean 5 Channel Video Projection, Cliff Evans 2007

All of this becomes inseparable, irreparable, our global empire, our heaven. These are the things we worship and strive for, and this is, honestly, inarguable. Man is now made in the image of himself, but thinner. Critically, Evans' piece could be articulated in a more sophisticated, more elegant abstract language. Some of the basest logos at times seem redundant i.e. the seven eleven/u.s.a. bucks coffee, yet form equals content and thus that which he wishes to articulate are just this: the images and ideas our culture presents us with today, on a minute by minute basis. He does not attempt to create something entirely new to tell us where we are going; he simply uses everything that is already here remastered and then asks," Where do our priorities lead us?" Perfect flowers of people perspire under hot lamps created, manipulated, maintained, and screwed. Even our self created destruction is somewhat sexy.

The position Evans takes does not seem to be a positive one, yet it is somewhat comedic and rather entertaining a la Hollywood. The soundtrack is cinematic and inventive and an absolutely vital emotional element to the entirety of the piece. His aesthetic is as particular and pointed as are the images- a flat, shadeless, sunlight illumines the odd, insect like symmetry of man and machine as we fold more and more into one another. The created animal and skull omens culminate in the pinnacle of Evans' predilections at the end of the loop as a last warning. We could deny these claims, but it seems as if it might be in name only. The images in Evans' piece are as bountiful as .coms in Silicone Valley, and thus we cannot deny them. Empyrean presents us with our value systems as a culture and as a society within which Evans plays director. Look at this, he says. Be entertained and enchanted, enthralled and disturbed, and know that it is you.

Empyrean (
Still from Empyrean 5 Channel Video Projection, Cliff Evans 2007

Posted by Amy Bernstein on March 23, 2009 at 13:20 | Comments (0)


Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?

s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee