Outside City Limits’ gallery doors, four wall clocks display the time in four different cities: Oakland, New York, London and Dubai. The ticking clocks illustrate a world of hustle and bustle -- a place where the global economy, business deals and international phone calls depend on a solid understanding of an eight-hour difference between time zones.
But across the gallery threshold, that hustle and bustle becomes muffled. Time melts away. Feet relax. Bailey Hikawa’s The Empty Temple asks something of viewers even before they enter the solo show, with a polite sign requesting that shoes be removed.
Inside, the gallery floor is covered with pieces of solid-colored, differently textured carpet and artificial turf. Strips of black carpet outline a circuitous path of right angles that leads visitors on a preordained journey through the gallery. The Empty Temple at once resembles a cat’s version of heaven, an agoraphobic’s garden and a meditation center’s waiting room.
Evenly spaced throughout the “maze” are Hikawa’s carefully crafted sculptures, sitting on the carpeted floor and on carpet-covered pedestals and mounted to the gallery walls. The objects are as inexplicable as they are mesmerizing, including a peach ceramic cone, a totem-like structure wrapped in black pleather and a stuffed goose hanging upside down from one corner of the ceiling.
The dissonance between shoeless feet softly crunching on artificial turf and the sight of an oversized latex rubber ear is both a treat for the senses and a starting point for absurd conjecture. Is this a prosthesis for Van Gogh? Is there a Mr. Potato Head somewhere missing a crucial part?