What Means Light
Paola Cabal’s installation for The Arts Club of Chicago begins with the observation of light. Eight reflective and illuminated towers portray the visible shifts in the garden’s light and color spectrum throughout the day. Over the course of 11 hours in the spring of 2019, Cabal positioned herself on St. Clair street across from The Arts Club garden and recorded the passing sun on the brick façade. On alternate days, she set herself up in the interior and watched the same scene from the other side. This exacting, durational activity on her part facilitates an avenue of thought about the cultural meanings of light and darkness that have now come up against an intensified cultural context as the country faces a pandemic and calls for racial justice. Cabal expresses her questions in philosophical terms: “What means light? Since when has light been equated with virtue? Who will we be when the viral threat recedes? Who will we be in the wake of a ferocious wave of awakening to inequity? Who will get to the other side alive? By what means?” To observe is to understand, she further explains. And if Cabal’s thoughtful engagement attests to her powers of observation, then these carefully placed towers point toward the subtleties of vision that lead to clarity of understanding.