Night (1947-2015)

Guest Curated by Jordan Stein

Jason Dodge, A tourmaline and a ruby inside of an owl
August 29 – November 30, 2013

The following exchange took place on a 1978 episode of Alexander Scourby’s television program “Connecticut Profiles”:

Scourby: I want to ask you one question that I think must come into the mind of anyone who sees [the Glass House] — what about birds?

Philip Johnson: It’s amazing you would ask. In the first few years the birds used to die, especially during migration, because they hadn’t been able to hear from the other birds about it. But even migratory birds have now learned, and I haven’t had a bird crash [into] the glass for the last ten years.

I find it amazing. Word probably has got out — “in New Canaan, look out…look out, there’s a place there where you can get killed and I don’t know why.” I don’t know how they talk, but they do.

Jason Dodge uses materials and language to explore the gap between the real world and an imagined one. His objects are often paired with purely descriptive titles that shed light on their backstories while simultaneously deepening their mysteries.

The third member of Night (1947 – 2015) appears forthright at first glance, even if a bit out of place: a dead owl, or perhaps a sleeping one, beak down on the table. But this ordinary bird, we’re told, has precious stones placed inside. While those physical contents can’t be seen, the work is doubtlessly filled with questions about how we instill objects with meaning and tell stories in order to build narrative coherence.

Dodge does not catalogue his work with a year or a medium, placing it out of time and space — a perfect fit for the Glass House. And like Giacometti’s Night, Dodge’s owl is both nocturnal and no longer with us. There in the center of the room, it embodies the magic and substitution at the core of this ongoing exhibition. As the artist notes, “the living part has been replaced with something precious.”