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   San Francisco Bay Guardian
February 21, 2001
by Megan Wilson





Ben Polsky and Holli Schorno
at Gallery 16



CONTEXT, WHETHER intentionally considered or not, is as much a part of a work of art as the piece itself, as the current exhibition at Gallery 16, featuring new works by New York-based artists Ben Polsky and Holli Schorno, demonstrates. San Francisco's economic climate and dot-com dive serve as a fitting backdrop for these drawings and collages that investigate structures and systems in a state of erosion and flux and explore the links between creation and destruction. Polsky's large-scale drawings of old factories in various states of decomposition, amid heaps of refuse and debris, are industrial wastelands that are both eerie and beautiful in their decay. The materials he uses - spirit process carbon that has the quality of a blueprint and rag paper that has been saturated in water and worked to a coarse and pulpified state - reinforce the ephemeral essence of these transitory spaces. Viewing these works, one is engulfed by the white expanse of the paper and soon becomes a part of the desolate landscape as the only human presence. Interspersed among the drawings are Holli Schorno's collages made from cut-up pages of books pasted on paper, also large in scale. Resembling networks, flow charts, or aerial views of urban centers, these pieces act as intricate codes of navigation for unknown territories. Phylogenetic Tree consists of four long strips of paper mapped with a labyrinth of interconnecting rectangles that are formed with clippings of text from encyclopedias and maps. Pieces from these snippets read "glenoid fossa," "medusa buds," and "internal ostium," to name a few. Untitled (Blue, Green, Orange), 3 long strips (78" x 16" each) is looser and more open-ended, providing a nice contrast to the density of her other works. The sight of the girders and cinderblocks being erected across the street from the gallery provide the finishing touch to this exceptional and timely exhibition.