you were a child, did you ever sneak into an abandoned building?
Do you recall how it felt to interrupt the stillness of dust-covered
rooms, to disturb the ghostly traces of forgotten lives?
Did you think about the people
who once lived here and where they might be now?
And if remembering all this seems
like a melancholy experience, maybe Ann Marie Rousseauís exhibition
at Orange Coast College will change your mind.
Ann Marie Rousseauís art blends
industrial ruins with a redemptive faith in the human spirit.
Moved by the sight of an abandoned New England factory (currently
being readied for use as an art center), Rousseau devoted two
summers to photographing its interior spaces. Less interested
in strict documentation than in poetry, Rousseau has added her
own twist to a familiar theme. Using friends and other artists
as models she has populated the sunlit factory rooms with ghostly
Leaping, twisting, or just glowing
softly with an "interior light." these figures become
a sign for the resuscitating power of art. (Art, says Rousseau,
is "the one spark of hope from what had been abandoned
While the focus of the show rests
squarely with Rousseauís highly manipulated photographs (paint
added to photographs on emulsion-coated linen canvas), the gallery
installation also includes old vent covers, electric coils,
cable spools and other relics of the machine age. Moreover,
even the galleryís signage, pale stenciled letters on a worm
window frame, evokes a bygone era..
In a final gesture, one which acknowledges
(or maybe mocks? the forces of time, Rousseau displays a proof
sheet of her own exhibition catalog in a Plexiglas case, perhaps
suggesting that both her art, and what she says about it, will
soon become documents- part of the past for others to explore
and perhaps resuscitate at some future date.
Orange County Register
Thursday, March 14, 1996