Dorothy Cross: L'air

21 Apr - 25 May 2005 Soho Square

'In his meditation on photography and death, Roland Barthes identifies an effect he simply calls l’air, some indefinable “expression” or “look” in the photograph of a lost loved one where the reality of death suddenly takes one by surprise, leading one” to that cry, the end of all language: “There she is!”... words fail. That singular “air” that unique manner or presence of the loved one in the image, is as insubstantial and fleeting as its homonym 'air'.' 


– Robyn Lyndenberg, from Gone. A publication to accompany Dorothy Cross’ current exhibition at The McMullen Museum, Boston




Much of the raw material for L'air comes from Dorothy Cross’ own physical surroundings; the flotsam and jetsam that washes up on the beach outside her home on Ireland’s Atlantic coast. Here the sea gives up its dead – a Gannet with its pristine plumage still intact, a family of spider crabs, a giant Sperm Whale – Cross transforms these creatures through taxidermy, casting in bronze or simply presenting them as an image of their former selves. 


Central to the exhibition is a new video work shot under the icebergs of Antarctica, this is a landscape defined by its shifting form, here the same place can be unrecognisable from one day to the next as the ice melts or drifts away. Cross’ piece evokes the strange and unsettling discontinuity of the location.  


The final room contains a large piece of driftwood. Inlaid on the surface is the world SALVE which the artist copied exactly from the doorstep of Goethe’s home in Weimar. This word, applied to a seemingly worthless object and combined with its own historical ties is rich in both cultural and linguistic associations.