Torquing,Twisting and Folding in Topological Space
Constructions by Zoe Keramea

September 8 – October 18, 2003
Opening Reception: Friday, September 12th 6~8 pm

Rolling Column (detail)


Knot X (detail)

The term “construction” alludes to “constructivism,” a style whose definition eludes us and which has never really been satisfactorily defined. Initially it was applied to Vladimir Tatlin’s 1914 assembled corner constructions and by 1920 was loaded with political meaning lost when the style was adopted internationally. Subsequently, his compatriot Naum Gabo avoided the term’s use and instead called his works by the more generic term “constructive.” According to George Rickey the author of Constructivism: Origins and Evolution (1995) the term is generally applied to any object that is built rather than cast or carved and to any Euclidean two or three-dimensional design.
 Perhaps it is best to maintain the term’s more general associations and even its nebulousness for Keramea’s work due to its paradoxical nature. Like the Möbius strip or Thiery’s figure, Keramea’s Rolling Columns, Knots and Zoetypes individually suggest a spatial reading in every detail but tend to resist the effort to complete it consistently so that the viewer is driven circuitously. It is practically impossible to maintain a figure’s fixed perspective due to the contradictory visual clues, which result in frequent reversals that force our attention to the surface plane. However rather than resulting in a formalistic, or mechanical aspect that depersonalizes due to its smooth surfaces, Keramea’s two and three dimensional constructions speak of loving hand labor and concerted effort while also being conceptual treasuries. Keramea’s Knots IV,VI orX (96”x12”) in graphite depict ribbons that appear to interweave and knot at certain junctures so as to create Möbius bands without any discernible beginning or end. A Möbius band results when a one sided surface with a single edge is obtained when giving a strip of paper one twist and securing the ends together. In topology, a branch of geometry, it is the study of those properties of solid bodies, which remain invariant under all continuous deformation. However, in this series Keramea is not only investigating color value, or mathematical complexity, nor just surface texture and depth, but she’s also undertaken the examination of solidity and absence. From Knot IV to Knot X there is a gradual filling in of space until the intricate composite ribbons densely populate the whole environment. The vertical format of these pieces is in agreement with the subject of long ribbons trailing into loops and sensuous circular patterns.
 Keramea’s Zoetypes are two-stage intaglio prints with matrix transfers printed on Hahnemuehle black paper. This series of prints consist of circle designs taken off the same metal plate but that result in unique formations after the artist manipulates and adjusts the fabric ribbon so as to form an imprint on the paper. The circle is the perfect geometric form or solar sign that has traditionally been associated with completion. In hermetic geometry the circle represents the philosopher’s stone and in Alchemy the Ouroboros motif that can best be imagined as a serpent that swallows its own tale only to regenerate itself. It symbolizes the circular movement of the alchemical process: dissolving, evaporating, and distilling of matter in which the heavier matter stays at the bottom and the lighter ether moves to the top. Keramea’s touch is ever so gentle and her imprint so sensitive so as to recall the alchemical process, which moves from solid to ether.


 Keramea’s Rolling Columns are composed of hexahedrons of folded paper knotted, and twisted into long tubular shapes. Each Rolling Column unit is composed of 32 hexahedrons of folded paper sewn into a spiky three-dimensional rhombus. The rhombus is then torqued upon itself into an interlocking position, becoming a spiky cylinder. Multiple rhombuses are then sewn together end-to-end to formulate the Rolling Column in which the two-dimensional strip of paper is folded to become three-dimensional object. Keramea investigates spatial perception a process in vision by which we locate the positions, sizes, and distances of objects in external space. Sensitive brain-eye coordination is necessary to compute scale and distance of objects based upon typical feature clues of that, which is perceived, such as perspective convergence, and texture gradient. When the clues are atypical however, they can mislead the reading of visual space and result in visual illusions such as seen in perspectival drawings. Keramea’s investigations however are not just retinal or perceptual experiments they are grounded in artistic talent and scientific knowledge that enrich and inform her total artistic production. Her oeuvre is a perfect symbiosis of art, science and philosophical inquiry.

Thalia Vrachopoulos, Ph.D
Assistant Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
The City University of New York