I never seem to lose interest in the way in which discarded objects collide, entangle, warp, gesture and even dissolve into the landscape of New York City. Allusions of clarity can be revealed in the entropic nature of urban life. Over the last year this seemed even more apparent with the streets virtually empty, begging for protagonists. When I was asked to organize this show, I wanted to respond to this act of seeing; in this light I began to think about different ways in which objects and materials are utilized and interpreted – whether it be through replication, dissection, or recycling – by various artists I admire. The works culled together here demonstrate various states and approaches towards this artistic endeavor. As the show started to take shape, however, the insurrection of the US Capitol occurred which further complicated the meanings of words like ‘reconstruction’ and ‘reassembly’ altogether. The result is a meditation on reinvention rather than reconciliation.
Fiona Connor’s (b. 1981, Auckland, lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) work often remakes or represents sites and objects where there is a context that connects the built environment and local communities, such as in civic or institutional spaces. This body of work comprises white painted casts of noticeboards, each made in molds that the artist has formed on-site from the noticeboard panels fixed to walls within the now-empty art educational campus environment of California Institute of the Arts. Each cast replicates the worn surfaces of panels that are ordinarily well-used analogue sites for exchange of information and communication between people. Connor’s casts of these noticeboards are explicitly about emphasizing the experience of material, and the muted, abstracted, and memorialized traces of many encounters.
The work of Yngve Holen (b. 1982, Braunschweig, Germany – lives and works in Oslo and Berlin) is characterized by a use of machines and industrial parts, often used for and by the human body – though the body itself is evoked only in its absence. Re-contextualizing machines and their components, the artist exposes our fetish for the mechanisms and processes of industry in a post-human landscape. Headache, 2019 is from a body of seven bronze sculptures, inspired by the characters in LEGO’s Chima series which was available between 2013-2015. The seven main figures in Chima are each based on a different, highly advanced, animal cyborg. Like other LEGO series, Chima was accompanied by animation about the cyborgs who complete with each other for CHI, a valuable natural source and their main life source. Made through a process of 3D printing followed by lost-pattern casting, the sculptures are at once relics of the hyper-precision of the original interlocking LEGO parts, and the material results of an age-old technique for sculpting molten metal.
Ann Greene Kelly (b. 1988 in New York, lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) engages materials and subjects sourced from her immediate surroundings. She interweaves common industrial objects, such as bricks, baskets, and tires, with personal items, such as clothing and used food containers, to create diaristic sculptures and drawings. Within her sculptural compositions she navigates the peculiar intermingling between the body and its built environment and creates metaphoric thresholds between what is real and imagined by incorporating tunnels, drains, doorways, and grates that provide passageways into alternate spaces.
Roe Ethridge (b. 1969 in Florida, lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) takes equally from his work as a commercial photographer, and artist. Blurring the lines that separate the two, Ethridge creates images that are simultaneously generic and intimate, often treading between humor and cynicism. Functioning in tandem, these motivations coalesce into an ongoing investigation into the mechanics of photographs, and their ability to both retreat into the personal, and expand to relay collective experiences.
Jill Magid (b. 1973 in Connecticut, lives and works in Brooklyn) is an artist, writer, and filmmaker. Magid’s practice interrogates structures of power on an intimate level, exploring the emotional, philosophical, and legal tensions that exist between institutions and individual agency. Her multimedia project The Barragán Archives (2013-16) explores what it means for an artist’s legacy to be owned by a corporation, specifically the legacy of Mexican architect Luis Barragán (1902–1988). While Barragán’s architecture was built in Mexico, his archive—including rights to his name and work—was acquired in 1995 by Swiss company Vitra under the auspices of the newly founded Barragan Foundation, located inaccessibly at its headquarters. Repeatedly denied entry to Barragán’s archive, Magid uses the law as raw material. Her resulting works aim to push the limits but just avoid copyright infringement. In this polyptych, Magid uses seven monochrome pages that act as chapter breaks in a publication on Barragán’s work. Adding light behind them, images of Barragán’s work are revealed through the pages, printed in his signature colors. In this case, Magid avoids reproduction and copyright restrictions by using the pages as ready-mades
The work of Michael E. Smith (b. 1977 in Detroit, lives and works in Providence, RI) utilizes existing materials – clothing, plastics, and machinery, as well as natural elements like coral or taxidermy. These collected, once-familiar objects are stripped of their intended purpose and assembled together to create new sculptural compositions. Through this process of alteration, the elements of Smith’s work are transformed beyond their origin or value, now seen as tools for communication and vessels of their own histories. Interpreted through a series of binaries, such as the natural versus the artificial, the human versus the technological, or life versus death, his assemblages emotively suggest violence, decay, poverty, and injustice in a manner not easily translated into language.
In the early 1970’s acclaimed photographer John Divola (b. 1949 in Los Angeles, lives and works in Los Angeles) was looking for a way to make works which emphasized process. In addition, Los Angeles was a remote outpost of the art world and he was experiencing art primarily through photographic illustration. This led him to using abandoned spaces as a venue for engagement and experimentation where there might be no necessity for an original art object.
Mitchell Kehe’s (b. 1984, lives and works in Queens, NY) paintings operate within a unique set of formal parameters, constructed of traditional and non-traditional materials on panels and stretched fabric. Not unlike the surface of a bowl of soup, Kehe’s paintings describe more of a condition than an image. Elements can be seen beginning to come together to form an enigmatic shape, figure, or symbol. Like a child transfixed by the workings of his own digestive system, we wonder what intelligent force, energy, or economy might lie beneath the surface. And yet, the paintings do not, in themselves, make explicit reference to an extrinsic idea. Rather, like a ringing bell, they tell you only and exactly what they are.
Cayetano Ferrer’s (b. 1981, Honolulu, lives and works in Los Angeles) practice examines the morphology and appropriation of historical forms and architectural motifs, often using sources and materials already many times removed, enacting gestures of further fragmentation and re-contextualization. In this way, Ferrer interrogates the parameters of power and mastery, as well as the historically persistent relationship between degeneration, restoration and replica. The works here are each comprised of plaster casts from ‘official reproductions’ of ancient artifacts held in the Staatliche Museen, Berlin and the Cinquantenaire, Brussels respectively. Missing fragments are infilled with a wax material created by Ferrer by boiling down a toxic soup of oil-based products (wax and plastic bags) cooled into stasis as blocks and then machine-carved. In the conjoining of a contemporarily produced object of identifiably historical origins with material from existing refuse the works provide mediations on recontextualization, the storing of the contemporary within material, also the layering of authorship that comes with restoration and representation. Ferrer sees this act of making as a laying of information from the present within these artificial relics, already so transformed and removed from original incarnation.
Ravi Jackson’s (b. 1985, Santa Barbara, CA, lives and works in Los Angeles) work uses imagery and text from popular culture as a way to negotiate ideas about race, art, and sexuality. This work takes the form of the altarpiece. A picture of Kurt Russell’s eyes are screwed into the surface, alongside a doorstop that also serves as a makeshift peephole.
Through a continually evolving process of trial and error, Virginia Overton (b. 1971, Nashville, TN, lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) creates sculpture, installation and works on paper which repurposes materials more commonly associated with factories, farms and construction than with art media. By means of both subtle and drastic interventions, Overton re-contextualizes these common objects to reveal their intrinsic properties and to highlight the wear accrued by passing time. Overton’s Untitled (upright) began with a found section of an architectural beam, roughly cut from a building. The artist cast a wedge of bronze for the underside of the pine’s jagged bottom, leveling the surface so that the beam stands fully plumb. She then sanded the angled top of the beam to a glass smooth surface, highlighting the concentric rings of the tree from which the beam was cut. The contrast of the untouched beam’s rugged exterior with the delicately sanded woodgrain of the pine and the mirror polish of the bronze creates a monolith on an intimate scale.
N. Dash’s (b. 1980, Miami, FL, lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) work employs both natural and manmade materials such as pigment, adobe/mud, fabric, string, acrylic, oil, styrofoam, and found objects. Across these media, the artist’s principal interests lie both in recording the sensory and informational capacities of touch and revealing typically unobserved conduits of energy: ecological, architectural, and corporeal that are situated outside the confines of language.
Naoki Sutter-Shudo (b. 1990, Paris) lives and works in Los Angeles. Sutter-Shudo collects images, takes objects from everyday life, selects words and slogans and puts them together to transform them, with the precision of a haiku. English is Sutter-Shudo’s third language, after French and Japanese, which may help explain why the artist’s work evinces such sensitivity to the interstices between one language and another, for the slippages, misinterpretations, and playful re-imaginings that come from translations and historical reference. Sutter-Shudo’s enameled wood sculptures may at first seem like exercises in formal abstraction, when considering the fetishistic appreciation for form, color, and surface. However, this formal seduction—drawing equally from Japanese lacquerware, Minimalism, and Art Deco design—acts as bait to lure the viewer, while raising questions of value, language, and one’s own very existence.
Spencer Young (b. 1978 in Dallas, lives and works in New York City) received a B.A. in Art History from Occidental College and M.F.A. in photography from Yale University. Spencer has been an advisor for just over ten years and works with significant collections in Dallas and Toronto. This is his first time organizing an exhibition at a commercial gallery.
Gallery name: Galerie Nordenshake
Address: Hudiksvallsgatan 8, Stockholm
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 11:00 - 18:00
Open: 11.03.2021 - 30.04.2021