‘Otherworldly’ is a little too ghostly and ‘ethereal’ too angelic: Samara Golden is an ‘interdimensional’ artist. She apprehends lost souls in humble masks, their faces burned into mirrored polystyrene (a favourite material). She builds sets that make the interdimensional seem less a cosmic place than an interior being, brightly prismed. Diving deeply into the other side of the looking glass, with all its concomitant absurdities and doublings, confusion and bemusements, Golden finds in her mirrorworld wanderings a powerful, melancholic kind of beauty. At Night Gallery in Los Angeles she managed this crossover in a sanctum titled Rape of the Mirror (2011). Fantasyland intrudes into reality and the result is messy. The clear blue wash of My Blue Heaven-coloured wallpaint feels synthetic, oppressive. The bed cascades with a sheet of broken mirror, reflecting a monitor featuring a woman, Samara Golden, desperately weeping, the splash and paddle of waves flowing in and out. Weird scenarios not meant to be understood play on other screens, such as faces cooking in frying pans. There’s an eerie feeling that you have unsuspectingly slipped into the scene, chroma-keyed into someone else’s dream, and if you look closely, you have. Much of the installation is constructed of cheap polystyrene, the modern building material only giving the illusion of form in the same way that mirrors only give the illusion of presence. A spectral tragedy, paradise lost, like that scene in Labyrinth (1986) when the Jennifer Connelly character realises that the crystal ball is Jareth’s illusion, an enchanting trap in a glass sphere. When fantasy penetrates reality, strange things happen.
This article was originally published in the March 2013 issue.