It is with great pleasure that Simone Subal Gallery announces the opening of Frank Heath’s Path of Totality on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. This is Heath’s third solo show at the gallery. The exhibition runs until June 24, 2018. Please join us for an opening reception on May 23 from 6 – 8 pm.
Installed as a synchronized environment in the space of the gallery, Path of Totality premieres three new video works that continue the artist’s investigation into questions concerning the end of the world, and in particular the various ways that humans imagine and prepare for it. The exhibition takes its title from the 2018 video “Path of Totality,” which documents the events leading up to the August 21st 2017 total solar eclipse in St. Joseph, MO (one of the prime locations within the path of the shadow as well as the hometown of the artist). Featuring a colorful array of eclipse-chasers, middle-Americans, and commercial opportunists who descended upon the small town in anticipation for a moment of impending darkness, the work captures the peculiar mixture of anxiety, amusement, and reflection summoned by the cosmic event.
Two other videos focus on the possibility of man-made cataclysm, whether from nuclear annihilation or climate change. “There is Nothing Underneath the West Virginia Wing” (2018) revolves around Project Greek Island bunker, a vast and elaborate underground bomb shelter that was designed to house members of Congress in the aftermath of a nuclear attack. Now declassified and open for public tours, the bunker was covertly maintained for 30 years in a state of readiness beneath the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Heath’s video focuses on the eerie spaces of the vacant shelter and its remarkable blast doors which were engineered by the Mosler Vault Company whose bank vaults famously survived the atomic blast at Hiroshima.
“Midnight Sun” (the third episode of Heath’s On the Beach series commissioned by Triple Canopy) was shot on location at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway. It is the last resort, a ‘final backup’ of the Earth’s food supply stored within the permafrost of an Arctic mountain and an effort—perhaps futile—to stave off the eradication of plants and crops because of the accelerating threat of global warming. Interspersed throughout the video is the audio of a serendipitously recorded telephone conversation in which a troubled caller (acted/voiced/played by Heath’s frequent collaborator Jesse Wakeman) recounts standing in line at a grocery store and having a vision of the sun suddenly appear during total darkness.