Danielle Roberts: Idling
Trapped in the liminal time and space of American languor, the subjects that loiter in Danielle Roberts’ solo exhibition, Idling, escape the alienation of their commercial surroundings in moments of languid connection. Employing hard fragmented lines, figures invent brief moments of opposition to the conforming forces of their surroundings. Navigating the barriers, gates, and fences, often built to privilege cars over people, the figures absentmindedly enjoy their harmless transgressions of subverting intended uses of public space as they traverse through, over, and around the sub/urban architecture. Amidst the twilight tableaus of city ennui, the mundane and the surreal coalesce in a glowing color palette, reflecting the galvanizing vulnerability of emerging relationships. Whether staring restlessly in dull torment or engaged in idle conversation, together, the artists’ jaded brigades imagine semblances of freedom through improvised disobedience and personal connection.
Fragmented faces wear barren expressions of consumption fatigue, exchanging detached glances of equal parts aloof boredom and burnt-out lethargy. Transitioning through abandoned parking lots, after-hours business parks, fast food joints, and strip malls, Roberts’ coming-of-age characters kill time by self-soothing with the convenient indulgences of soda, beer, and junk foods. Searching for something to fill the empty hours of their evening, the antics are a mix of bemusement and indifference. As abrasive fluorescents punctuate dusk’s moody hues, the commercialized sites are imbued with a supernatural intensity. With eyes half-focused, their sense of apathy is transcended when bathed in the blacklight-glow of dreamy lighting.
As buildings and bodies are arranged in classical compositions, works such as Idling and Inflation explore the act of looking through windows, reflections, or partitions, onto deeper space as they’re set in the transitory and confined space of car interiors. In Altar for desire (the threshold), night falls over a group gathered in an abandoned parking lot in front of a brightly lit 24-hour convenience store. Artificial brightness beams through window panes clashing with the overcast sky. The store’s neon signs advertising ‘new berry blast’ and ‘2 for $4 hotdog combos’ sit in stark contrast to the late-night stillness outside. The melancholic cohort converses on cracked asphalt, their faces shadowed in overcast neon hues. The buzzing crackles of electricity meld with the listless hangout’s low hum of chatter. As the night deepens and the group's conversation meanders through the mundane and the profound, there is a sense of communion amidst the isolation.
Through the day-glo lens of Danielle Roberts' Idling, we witness the interplay between alienation and connection. Adrift in the sterile norms of commercialized labyrinths, the subjects invite their viewer into their fleeting moments of camaraderie. Amidst flashy bids for attention and the monotony of consumption, solace is found in the simple act of being together. Roberts' evocative imagery captures the essence of blasé while reminding us that, even in the most mundane of settings, human connection forges bonds that can transcend the confines of their surroundings.