Ingrid Calame traces contours of stains that she lifts from the streets and transposes onto white gallery walls into graphic, painterly compositions. Collected from sidewalks, parking lots, roads, and rampways in Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, and most recently Seoul, Korea, Calame has developed an extensive archive. Some stains are puddle-like; others bear the force of impact, defined by direction and speed; still others are simply small seepages, drops, natural drip and mechanical drizzles. There are actual paint stains, too: graffiti, the mark of human hands. Once traced, every stain is annotated with the place and date it was recorded, and then filed away for future use in her paintings. Abstract and representational at once, these layered works refer to cartography, forensics, and the gestures of Abstract Expressionism; at the same time they evoke abrasion, erosion, evaporation, erasure, and inscription.
For her installation at ICA, Calame responded to the steep pitch of the ramp space by turning to tracings she had made on the sharp embankment walls of the Los Angeles River. These included a turf war in spray paint between two local graffiti crews from the surrounding Frog Town neighborhood—each graffiti-ing over the others” salvo of text. As Calame writes, “I traced the silhouette of the whole, so that words are sometimes visible but mostly are obliterated and changed into one conglomerate shape. It is like I found the constellation of stains that I usually combine in the studio.” As rendered by Calame, this urban palimpsest is a microcosm of personal and political disputes in which one point of view wipes out the other thereby creating a new form.
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