Styrene, acrylic, cast neoprene, paper, polyurethane foam, ash, talc, starch, acrylic, vinyl film, wood, steel, lighting, BK7 glass
Courtesy of the artist and Pierogi, New York, NY
What lies behind the wall? The viewer is confronted with a blank, white wall, pierced by a small circle of beckoning light. Peeping in, what can the viewer spy? Like the classic her oine of Lewis Carroll’s 1865 Victorian fantasy novel, Alice in Wonderland, in which the titular heroine grows and shrinks throughout the story, the viewer is too large to fit through the little opening into Patrick Jacobs’s beautiful garden.
In its glossy perfection, Spiral would seem to represent the Edenic garden—a perfect moment frozen in time under a thick magnifying lens—but the work is an illusion, a moment of seeming simplicity that fools the eye. The illuminated box, its mechanisms skillfully hidden behind the wall, is carefully designed to look correct after being distorted by the lens into this artificial three-dimensional world. Jacobs is a perfectionist; each tiny piece, of which there are thousands, is hand cut from plastic with the most delicate tools, forming a work that is reminiscent of Victorian glass paperweights.
Filled with lush roses, as seen here, or more prosaic items like an urban fire escape, Jacobs merely suggests human presence so as not to break the illusion of hyperreality. Still, there is a suggestion of illicit eroticism—the viewer is forced to become the voyeur. The “pincushion” effect of the magnification means objects appear smaller in the center, giving an illusion of great depth. And although beautiful, there is something unnerving about the distant light. One wonders what enchanted creature might emerge out of the glow.