“AXxoN N.” is a group exhibition of works created in response to David Lynch’s 2006 film “Inland Empire.” Riddled with ruptures of time, space, narrative and identity, the film’s “multiple and fractured modes of perception” (Anne Jerslev) seem “like a series of dream sequences floating free of any grounding reality, a dream without a dreamer” (Mark Fisher), inviting and frustrating commentary. The exhibition, which includes work by Professors Johannes DeYoung (work pictured above) and Janelle Iglesias, is on view at Essex Flowers in New York City through March 10.
Famously averse to discussing his own films, Lynch has limited his comments on “Inland Empire” to a quotation from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: “We are like the spider. We weave our life and then move along in it. We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream. This is true for the entire universe.”
What does “Inland Empire” reveal about the realities we weave and then inhabit? “AXxoN N.” acts as a snapshot of our fragmented dreams, of the way our individual realities clash even as they coexist and coalesce.
The show’s title refers to a cryptic handwritten text that appears near doorways through which Laura Dern’s characters pass into fractured realities. In this spirit, “AXxoN N.” provides commentary on the film’s complexities through more than 60 works on paper, paintings, sculpture, video, and interactive pieces. Exploring issues of surveillance, celebrity, splintered identity, synaptic connection, and erratic or selective psychic annihilation, these works add to the visual and narrative storehouse of Inland Empire, or serve as a replacement for something missing, like a prosthesis. Packed in a minimal space, “AXxoN N.” would create a sensory overload if not for its lighting: a hanging work light and a few handheld flashlights, which viewers move over the walls, directing their own experience by illuminating one piece at a time, then letting it slip back into the dark.