Penelope Umbrico





Penelope Umbrico

Work from Broken Sets (ebay) and Desk Trajectories (part of her exhibition As Is).

Umbrico has an opening tonight at LMAK Projects (139 Eldridge on the Lower East Side, Manhattan) that I strongly recommend you go to see.

“Broken Sets (eBay) are images of the screens cropped from pictures of broken LCD TVs Umbrico found on eBay.com, where they are sold for parts. The sellers turn on the TVs while photographing them so that potential buyers can see that the electronics behind the screens work. Umbrico became interested in the incidental abstract beauty of the screens because they are derived from the breakdown and failure of their own promising technology. By presenting these inadvertent abstract compositions as formal compositions in their own right, Umbrico collapses the obsolescence and breakdown of new technology with the aesthetic formalism of utopian Modernist abstraction.

A reoccurring theme in Umbrico’s work is the examination of how unattainable lifestyles are marketed, lusted after, and devoured by consumers. She highlights underlying cultural longings of a consumer subject allowing it to be replaced by a fictional, idealized, non-existent abstraction. This sentiment is poignantly illustrated in Desk Trajectories (As Is), 2010. If a new office desk promises the ultimate in organization and productivity, these same desks on craigslist and eBay, by virtue of the fact that they are “used” and out of commission, represent the exact opposite: a deflated and empty sign of productivity. No longer useful, and taking up too much space, these desks have been subsumed to an economy of re-appropriation, value deflation, and physical degradation.

The term As Is indicates a good bargain with perhaps some flaw, but taken here as an ontological statement, As Is points to a sort of existential anxiety: its reason for being is hinged on its potential for facilitating productivity, and its form is a testament to ideologies of a clean, elegant modernist aesthetic. In these pictures, all efficiency, productivity and elegance is in question.” – text via LMAK Projects

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