Suzanne Harris, Won for the One, 1974. Plate glass

Suzanne Harris

New York

Lance Fung Gallery

When Suzanne Harris died in 1979 she was only 39 years old. At the time she was only known to a small group of friends and supporters, and had only just begun to have shows with galleries both in the United States and abroad. This exhibition of a single installation shows what might have become for Harris a tour de force had her reputation and vision matured. ln the gallery’s main exhibition space, a plate glass cube weighing some 300 pounds was hung four feet above the floor, secured to the ceiling with piano wire. The glass was lit on three sides by red, yellow, and green bulbs, and rather than casting a dark shadow, the cube shone a pure white light on the floor beneath it. The radiant light below the cube was like a feat of magic, drawing empty space into the cube s presence. While suspended, the cube remained static, but the box had a wonderful quality of levitation. Equally remarkable was the dramatic silence which the transparent cube imposed on the space and any viewer who entered this exhibition. Won for the Won
(1974), as the piece is titled, characterizes Harris’s vision – she was driven to search for the immanence of life. She explored the material world in order to extract something meaningful and valuable from things that we might find otherwise ordinary and banal. Harris left no precise explanation for her title, leaving it open to interpretation. The cube is singular and monumental. Harris’s sculpture is neither minimal nor reductive. Sharing a sensibility with artists such as Gordon Matta-Clark and Keith Sonnier, who were identified with Post-Minimalism (or “anarchitecture” as she defined it in the early ’70s), these artists demonstrated the terms of a formal exchange between materials while seeking to create a greater bridge
between art and everyday life and reveal the mysteries in the commonplace. Harris was in search of new
meanings suggested by and represented through her use of different materials and the construction of room-size installations. Here it was glass and light and space; in other works it was paper or cardboard or wood. Her ideas took form in what another writer has described as a responsive art, not shaped by circumstance, but formed in relation to observed physical conditions. The recreation of this 1974 installation was built by long-time friend and sculptor Jene Highstein. The installation was based on a photograph from the work’s premiere at 112 Greene Street and Highstein’s own recollections of Harris’s construction. A retrospective is planned for a future date, to be organized by poet and critic John Yau, and it is to be hoped that more of his works will be built and shown, and that we will have an opportunity to see more of Harris’s noteworthy projects.

  Michael Klein