at Cydonia through february 20
by Todd Camplin

If the conceptual art mystique is finally ready to fall from its absurd weight of self-importance,
then what will be left after all the hype produced artists, with their armies of artisans they
namelessly employ to make or break their art, fall by the wayside. I think you will be left with
some actual thoughtful artists that don’t default to Duchamp and don’t adhere to the
hands off Warhol factory production model. Instead I would like you to consider the show
at Cydonia with the artist Michael Just.
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As I entered the gallery the first thing I
noticed was three laser-cut text pieces
distributed  around the gallery space.
Like the title of the  show, one black
text  reads, “What’s done cannot be
undone”. I found that the text was
held together with a metal bar that
seemed to strike through  the texts.
Much in the same way Thomas
Aquinas and later Martin Heidegger
would mark out  being, because a
word could not fully contain the
gravity of the word. In other words,
language  was incapable of
completely quantifying the meaning
of this high ideas.

Michael Just seems to  be crossing out
his phrases to imply greater meaning.
You will find two other phrases that play
with language and meaning. A silver
piece titled The Wounds of the Spirits
reads “The wounds of the spirits heal
and leave no scars behind” and
another White piece proclaims that
“The time is out of joint”.

Because of his choice in using silver
and white, the mark out effect is
more subtle.
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His pictures of a fault line helped further bolster my argument that Just was playing with this
idea of striking. The lines run across the desert, created by the force of two plates of earth
moving. Struck out text implies powerful forces of interpretation and perspective occurring
by the reader. Of course, Michael Just could also be describing an in-between space
that occurs in text and in nature.

Michael Just uses multiple perspectives in his series of faces titled Scars. These images of a
sculpture are not an Andy Warhol, dead pan repeat of a screen printed photograph.
Instead each image is at a slightly different angle, almost as if one was searching around
the sculpture. It looks to me Just gold leafed the image, but didn’t hide his process, because
the squares of the material are still visible. This helped to demystify the work and prevent
a kind of old school religious icon elevation reference. It is hard to demystify gold without
going kitsch, but Just manages it skillfully.
The only piece in the show that felt out of step was his image of a cartoon rabbit and wolf.
The work was really outside the main show, behind an area blocked off to visitors, yet it was
just odd. It lacked all the sophistication of the rest of the show, so it stood out, even if was off
to the side. Two other works of blossoms struck me as strange at first as well, because they
were very simple, graphic representations of bouquets of flowers in baskets. Not until I was
told about the source material and how the color was stripped from the image that the
deep cultural significance of the German native sank in. But you will have to go and ask
about these two works if you want to know their stories. Hanh Ho and her staff would love
to fill you in on the story of these two works. February 20th the show will be done and
shouldn’t leave any scars behind.
(Untitled) What’s Done Cannot be Undone, 2014,
metal leaf on aluminum, 67 x 50cm