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Jill Sylvia: Ledger 

Wednesday, Jun 13 2007
OCD never looked so good. Jill Sylvia cuts accountant's ledger sheets into geometric lace with a patience and precision that rivals Agnes Martin's minimalist line paintings. Using a single-edged razor blade held against a straight edge, she removes each box, leaving a grid of lines. In a handsome suite of thematic variations, Sylvia selects sheets of different sizes — 4, 10, or 25 columns — and glues them end to end, or along a margin like a book. Unrolled and opened, these lacy works recall jacquard looms and the punch cards that programmed them — the precursors to early computers. And despite its precision, there is a warm, old-fashioned quality to this work. Who keeps a handwritten ledger anymore? Untitled (Budget) and other pieces recycle hand-inked ledger sheets. The accountant's entries, in a rhythmic slanted hand, are as beautiful as fine calligraphic drawings. Sylvia's "reconstructions" reassemble the cut-out bits into tile-like textured collages. The aesthetics of office supply design is reflected in the minimal palette available — green and brown on light green; blue and red on buff. In Untitled (Calendar), 31 yellow sheets are mounted on the wall as days in a month. Light pouring through the cut-out lattice structures casts shadows like window patterns in a modern building. Sylvia uses the ledger sheet as a balance sheet noting our profits and losses and conferring an illusory order on the transactions and the chaos of our lives.—Lea Feinstein

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Lea Feinstein


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