For over a decade, Christopher Robin Duncan has been capturing, cutting, sewing, and ensembling light, resulting in a body of work that intersects painting and photography, collage and sculpture, the visible and the audible. In The Space Between Years, he presents at Pt.2, in collaboration with Rebecca Camacho Presents, an exhibition in various states of transition. 

Light, shadow, sun, moon,  ocean, wind, fabric, porcelain, bronze, candles and sound- in time. 

Duncan’s process begins by placing a piece of fabric on a rooftop, exposing it to the elements for prolonged periods of time(6-12 months)––usually in correspondence with the lunar and solar cycles––and then brought back to the studio. He then unfolds the fabric, unveiling varying degrees of sun-bleached forms, some more translucent or opaque than others, then proceeds to extend the fabric over stretcher bars. Initially, he would limit as much as possible any gestural markings that would suggest the “artist’s hand,” the paintings-cum-photograms as unmediated documentation of natural phenomena; eventually, he’d add a subtle painted squared border to the surface, as a way of demarcating a focal point, creating a push-and-pull between the unrehearsed forms made by the sun and the artist’s attentiveness to the “accidental.” 

As of late, Duncan’s process involves cutting and sewing scraps of exposed fabrics from previous works (finished or unfinished), creating two-dimensional pieces where multiple exposed timelines intersect and form part of a larger whole. Collective time. The cutting, mixing and mending process in these pieces brings the work closer to the realm of music, where through intersecting intervals of time, a note, a chord, and an eventual composition is made. Sound as much as light, plays a key component in his practice. 

Experimenting with field recordings, percussive instruments- such as cymbals, and harmonicas, Duncan creates compositions where minimal sonic gestures evolve over time through looping and other forms of layering, creating walls of noise that are both chaotic and transcendental. A speaker made in collaboration with artist/fabricator Ian Treasure will present a soundtrack for the exhibition- composed of said field recordings and harmonicas, as well as artist made flutes and bells. The textured qualities of his recordings, like Duncan's two-dimensional works, are imbued with an energy that can’t be fully harnessed. 

In engaging with Duncan’s visually and sonically rich works, one must also pay attention to the invisible, to the elements that are felt but not readily available. From light to shadow, noise to silence; The Space Between Years is an exhibition that reflects on the malleability of time: its fractured rhythm, the threshold between personal and collective time, and the reconciliation between the old and the new. These questions have pushed Duncan to revisit approaches to art-making that were once renounced––bird motifs and sewing as a gesture of drawing––and to design the unfolding of the exhibition as a progression from daytime into nighttime, making the space a surreal inner landscape that is both personal and accessible. 

The Space Between Years is a reflection of Duncan’s 20 year-long trajectory as an artist, although  far from being an exhibition survey, it still illustrates the artist’s shifting attitude to materials, sound, and the environment. The works are grounded, yet still retain an experimental quality. 

Perhaps that’s the definition of being wise?  

Written by Diego Villalobos