Portland Pataphysical Society

Ryan Burghard at Pataphysical Society: Spare and liminal

An installation at the Portland Pataphysical Society suggests the presence of history lurking in the present


In his latest, immersive exhibition, Whatever hour you woke, Ryan Burghard alludes to memory, to the passage of time, and to the imperfect erasures of history, using the sparest of marks and materials.

The title is drawn from the first line of Virginia Woolf’s A Haunted House, a short prose-poem from 1922. The house she describes is less haunted than filled with the presence of its former inhabitants. The couple is faintly glimpsed through slight shifts in the location or appearance of objects; through phenomena sensed rather than directly seen or heard; and through a quest for a treasure that turns out not be physical at all.

An element of Ryan Burghard’s installation at Pataphysical Society/Photo by Mario Gallucci

In a similar way, Burghard’s carefully considered installation at the Pataphysical Society through July 13, envelopes you in a kind of vibrating silence. Gradually, as your mind becomes accustomed to the space, its details reveal themselves, coalescing into a series of five works that are at once discrete and interrelated, linked by their concern with presence (the gestures that created them) and absence (they function as shells of those gestures).