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Exciting the intellect

"The Redaction Project" by Ann de Marcken at Salon Refu

Anne de Marcken in front of wall of index cards as part of her installation at Salon Refu. Photo credit: Marilyn Freeman

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It used to be called the avant-garde, and then it was called the cutting edge. What's beyond that I do not know, but whatever it is, you'll find it at Salon Refu in Olympia - the place where art happens that you'll never see anywhere else, where you can see art of no commercial appeal that challenges and excites the intellect and the emotions. What better proof can there be than "The Redaction Project", the installation by Anne de Marcken that currently fills the gallery.

Described as a "time-based artist," de Marcken creates short stories, poetry, screenplays, short and feature-length films and videos, and interactive web environments. Her writing has been featured on NPR's Selected Shorts and in publications such as Best New American Voices, Glimmer Train and many others.

"The Redaction Project" is an environment of paper and words and heavy black marks where words once lived; it fills the walls and hangs from swinging pendulums in the gallery space. It is based on an 8,037-word short story titled After Life, which the artist wrote but never published. She "redacted" her story just as corporations and government offices redact sensitive documents they are forced to release. In the process of redacting parts of her story by obliterating groups of words and whole paragraphs, and eventually the entire story, she created new stories, poems, sheets of music like scores for a player piano, and beautiful abstract patterns. She copied every page of her story at every step along the way and hung them all in the middle of the gallery where viewers can thumb through them, read parts, including tons of research notes and the entire unredacted story for those who make the effort to find it.

As I saw it - and you may see it differently; the possible interpretations are multitudinous - the installation is hung in a chronological order and in an order that gets progressively abstract as you move from the front to the back of the gallery.

One wall is filled with approximately a thousand index cards, each card listing a unique word, how many times it is used in the story, where it can be found, how many times it has been redacted, and how many times it remains after redaction. The word "obliterate," for instance, was used only once and redacted zero times with, therefore, a remainder of one. (After all, why redact "obliterate"? Wouldn't that be rather redundant?)

On another wall are beautiful abstract prints of redaction marks - no words in these, but simple colored bars that divide the space.

The project takes some explanation to fully understand. Fortunately there will be a video of the artist talking about it that you can watch at your leisure.

This installation is an amazing visual presentation of one artist's obsession with an idea and the myriad of places pursuing that idea has taken her. Depending upon the amount of time and effort viewers are willing to devote to it, the thoughts, images, and patterns that can be discerned are endless. I spent far too little time looking at it and have every intention of going back for more.

"THE REDACTION PROJECT", Thursday-Sunday 2-6 p.m., and by appointment, through March 31, Salon Refu, 114 N. Capitol Way, Olympia, riddie.glenn@gmail.com

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