Ed Atkins

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Ed Atkins

Work from Ribbons

“Centered around an augmented and appended version of the new multi-screen video work Ribbons, Atkins’s exhibition transforms the Serpentine Sackler Gallery into a submersive environment of syncopated sounds, bodies and spaces. This is his largest solo exhibition in a UK public institution to date.

Ribbons (2014) will have its UK premiere at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in a site-specific adaptation. Presented alongside installations of text and images, accompanying videos and tourettic interjections, the exhibition will underscore the ambivalent relationship that exists between real and virtual objects; between real and virtual conditions.

“The Sackler exhibition will re-possess some sort of sub-horror genre; the old powder rooms, haunted by the phantom smell of gunpowder, paranoia and anticipation of violence, will emphasise a particularly phantasmatic aspect of Ribbons; the protagonist’s questionable corporeality, their presence, their performance of loss and monstrousness” – Ed Atkins

Sounds from a suite of synchronised projections positioned throughout the Gallery will lead the visitor through the space, with glimpses of song, swells of orchestra, murmuring voices and waves of sub-bass. Ribbons is part musical, part horror, and part melodrama; Bach’s Erbarme Dich and Randy Newman’s I think it’s going to rain today are two of the songs featured. Naked, lonely and misanthropic, the palpable melancholy of Atkins’s Computer Generated avatar hero is ‘rendered’ as HD graphic, troll, voyeur and, perhaps, artist.

Atkins’s work draws attention to the way in which we perceive, communicate and filter information. His videos combine layered images with incomplete or interrupted excerpts of singing, speech, subtitles and handwriting. Working with a specialist in computer generated animation, Atkins exploits the hyperreal surfaces produced by new software systems to create complex, nightmarish environments populated by virtual characters, avatars of ambiguous provenance and desires. Atkins has described the male figure that appears in these works as ‘a character that is literally a model, is demonstrably empty – a surrogate and a vessel’. Despite the emotive music and poetic syntax of the protagonists, their emptiness serves to remind the three-dimensional, warm-bodied viewer of their own physicality.

The experience of the physical body in Atkins’s show will be contrasted with and complemented by the durational performance being undertaken by Marina Abramović, whose exhibition runs concurrently at the Serpentine Gallery.”

Strauss Bourque-LaFrance


Strauss Bourque-LaFrance

Work from “No Aloha” at Rachel Uffner, New York.

“Rachel Uffner Gallery is pleased to present No Aloha, its first solo exhibition with Strauss Bourque-LaFrance. Bourque-LaFrance’s interdisciplinary practice combines painting, sculpture, and performance, and merges disparate fields and influences, from interior and stage design to film and comics, exploring desire, memory, and estrangement in contemporary domestic and commercial culture. For No Aloha, Bourque-LaFrance presents a series of paintings and sculptures that fuse his interest in the fabricated, minimal object with synthetic readymade materials, constructing an uncanny interior mise-en-scène with shifting views and multiple readings.

A new group of domestic sculptures that function as fireplace mantels or pedestals populate the carpeted interior of the main gallery space. Traditionally the mantelpiece has been an archetype of formal domesticity, defining interior décor and an architectural focal point that served a ventilating purpose, but has since, particularly in the 20th century, been used to frame the “family room,” signifying a place to gather, or to display objects, photos, mementos; a kind of secular altar. Fireplace mantels reached a high point of cultural saturation in the early nineties, when roughly two thirds of American homes had one. Today, these sites are mostly painted over and left behind as decorative markers lamenting the grandeur of a bygone era. In Bourque-LaFrance’s disjointed interiors, the mantels are resuscitated and filled with a buoyant sense of openness and optimism that articulate domesticity, but as a malleable construct. Each of the four mantels in the exhibition takes on a different shape or surface – referencing the design and political ideologies of International Style and Memphis Group along with the high/low aesthetics of Pop and ornamentation – acting as a pedestal, a sculpture of an object, an image of an object, and so on. These mantels likewise double as animated portals to an alternate space or reality (think Beetlejuice), setting the stage for a spiritual-like sense of transformation inherent in his practice.

In concert with these works, Bourque-LaFrance will show a new grouping of “vacation paintings” that explore escapism and contemporary ways of seeing, expanding his visual language by synthesizing marks, tropes, and framing devices of historical and contemporary painting. Created using spray enamel on polyethylene mesh encased in multi-colored Plexiglas boxes, the vacation paintings combine spontaneous gestural abstraction with collaged and often representational imagery. Like blurred, optical remnants of “attempted images,” they oscillate between the tastefully benign and comically unhinged. Ultimately, “vacation space” is a non-space, as it exists between one’s everyday life and the life one hopes to live (or in the Foucauldian sense of heterotopia, it is an in-between space of otherness that offers a means of escape from daily anxieties). Whereas for Foucault the mirror was an ideal site of heterotopic duality, Bourque-LaFrance’s hybrid paintings are positioned somewhere between textiles, smartphone screens and commercial or historical vitrines, potentially hopeful and meditative fields where the viewer projects one’s fears and desires, but that never fully reveal themselves. It is the space between one’s home and one’s job, between one’s fantasies and realities. This space is No Aloha.

Strauss Bourque-LaFrance, b. 1983, lives and works in Brooklyn. Recent solo shows include KANSAS, New York; Courtney Blades, Chicago; Bodega, Philadelphia/New York. His work has been included in exhibitions at ICA Philadelphia, SculptureCenter, New York; Contemporary Austin Jones Center, Texas; Abrons Art Center, New York; Johannes Vogt Gallery, New York; Vox Populi, Philadelphia; Crane Arts, Philadelphia; Extra Extra, Philadelphia; Clifford Gallery, Colgate University, New York; and Porch Projects, Washington D.C., among others. He received his BFA from Hampshire College, Amherst, MA; and his MFA from Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA.” – Rachel Uffner Gallery

One Step Beyond


One Step Beyond @ Galerie Christophe Gaillard

“For a long while the indexed nature of photography laid at the heart of theoretical discourse on this medium. For Rosalind Krauss as for Roland Barthes, Henri Van Lier, Philippe Dubois and others, the contiguous relationship between the image and its referent was one of the ontological foundations of photography. Today, a photographic image is not necessarily a trace of “that which was” in front of the camera. For digital revolution has come along, upsetting the situation by freeing the medium from its assignment to represent reality.

To afford “the humble servant of the arts” (and of many other things besides) to finally stand for itself, there was only a short step. Artists of the exhibition “One Step Beyond” have taken it. From different backgrounds, they have turned their back to the dogma of the indexability, they aknowledge other qualities to a photograph and – even if they sometimes push it around as to better understand its essence -they take it for what it is: a material to work on, an autonomous object that unfolds in space, is freed from its frame and offers a surface with depth. Therefore, if Hannah Whitaker still works with film photography, she establishes a critical distance towards the represented object by placing hand-cut paper screens in front of the film at the shooting stage. The photograph made through this method seems to acquire a third dimension which disrupts our perception and makes us aware that any image capture results from a more or less elaborate device. Jordan Tate seems to operate with the same type of reversal since his works tend to point to the processes involved in the workflow that makes them emerge: exploring different aspects of the “making of” a digitally reworked photograph , he highlights what does not usually appear. In his photographic installation New Work # 169, the image becomes a sculpture – a tautological one, furthermore – but preserves its integrity as it keeps its materiality, that of lightweight paper. This shift to a spatiality of the image is also at work by other artists such as Letha Wilson whose photographs of American landscapes are transformed into a material she recasts, kneads, experiences to create meaning. Similarly, pieces of Constance Nouvel, Décor XIII and Persistants, silver prints on plaster, seem to defy different spaces, those of reality, of the pictorial representation, of the three-dimensional support in which the image is inserted in a dialectic and poetical manner. Away from this elegant simplicity, Kate Steciw ‘s pieces appear at first sight more complex, not to say crazy! The artist works with commercial photographs from image banks and online shopping sites that she collects using the metadata tags. These images are then fragmented, distorted by softwares, and then cut again and gathered in large abstract compositions close to collage or painting. Nothing breaks through these buryings of crushed photographs accompanied by their keywords, except shapes, textures and vibrant colors, attractive and trivial, as if the artist had striven, by digital alchemy, to extract the pith and substance of advertising imagery. Finally, the German Christiane Seiffert adopts a very different approach, off the wall and closer to performance: she photographs herself “like a postcard ” becoming either a cityscape, an armchair, an orchid or an electrical outlet, suggesting that it is not the image but the body of the artist that bears the mimetic function of photography. By this absurd shift and the choice of “trash” aesthetic close to amateurism, she’s teasing the “beautiful picture” and the ability of photography to be faithful to reality. No, it’s not a representation of reality that the artists gathered in this exhibition invite us to look at, but it is photography itself; “Hey you, don’t watch that, watch this! ” they seem to say, as in the injunction that opens the famous – though a little forgotten – piece of the “Madness” group, One Step Beyond.” – Isabelle Le Minh

Johan Rosenmunthe

Marble attempt
Granite mapping 2
For scale
Lapis speculi

Johan Rosenmunthe

Work from Tectonic.

“Stones transcend human life and experience. They live on different time scales to humans, exist on other planets and fall from the sky to Earth. Both art and philosophy have looked upon the stone before (think Sartre’s nausea at pebbles on the beach) because they are compelling objects of alchemical weight. Tectonic is a mysterious and mesmerising exploration of Rosenmunthe’s own fascination with the power of stones, their symbolism, perceived healing powers, atavic beauty, weight, surface, age. The book is the culmination of a lifetimes investigation – each photograph a new study, looked at with geological perspective, nostalgia or scientific standpoint.

Accompanied by a section of Mary Anne Atwood’s text ‘A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery’, reprinted after originally being withdrawn as a dangerous literature of magic, the book harnesses that same alchemical power. Bound in an iridescent material that embodies the very essence of shimmering lapis lazuli, Tectonic honours the golden ration of composition design, and the viewer is locked into triangles that allow the object an alluring ambiguity in its own right.

These are inquisitive works, but they are not questions, because no answers can be found.” – Mary Anne Atwood

Group Show @ Gladstone Gallery

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Work from Group Show @ Gladstone Gallery, New York.

“This summer Gladstone Gallery has invited Galerie Neu to present the summer exhibition at our 24th Street location. The show features a series of works drawn from Galerie Neu’s talented roster of artists, and will explore notions of place through works that draw upon re- purposed, urban, and readymade materials.

Visitors to the exhibition will first encounter John Knight’s Work, in situ, Galerie NEU/MD72/Gladstone Gallery, which will wrap around the gallery’s walls. The piece, composed of the panels of Galerie Neu’s original roof in their first location, and which was reinstalled in Galerie Neu’s second location in Mehringdamm, has been battered by weather for ten years, conveying the passage of time and exploring the way in which environment alters a place. Through its installation at Gladstone Gallery the work draws a poignant connection between the two distinct spaces.

Reena Spaulings’s series The New Dealers, a collection of twenty-two oil-based portraits on panels of well-known art world professionals, will also be on view. The series, which follows the collection of works The Dealers, draws on imagery found in or reminiscent of Artforum’s “Scene & Herd” column, creating a playful representation of the art world. The work provides a critique of manifestations of celebrity, a concept further explored in Tom Burr’s Charlotte Shifting that will also be on view, and which is composed of printouts of reproduced portraits.

In addition, a collection of installation works, sculptures, and paintings by Sergej Jensen, Kitty Kraus, Klara Lidén, Manfred Pernice, and Gedi Sibony, will be included in the exhibition, many of which take as their starting point readymade materials. Among the works on view will be Lidén’s Untitled (Poster Painting), a sculptural work created from posters she has found on the street, and Sibony’s The Revolving Rey, a panel from a trailer that Sibony will exhibit unaltered from its found state. Taken together, the works provide a profound reflection on space and time, offering viewers a minimalist framework through which to contemplate and understand our distinct contemporary moment.” – Gladstone Gallery

Eva Berendes

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Eva Berendes

Work from her oeuvre.

“Drawing on a host of references, Eva Berendes’ geometrically patterned fabric screens divided, coloured and softened the small space of Ancient & Modern. The gallery’s name suited this poised show, which put forward a variety of Janus-faced views on Formalism and its various contexts. Two upright, white wooden frames held symmetrical, angular patchworks of green, yellow, lavender, blue and red fabric, while the criss-cross of the white beams steadying the frame on its reverse side showed through the flimsy material. A group of mirrors on the wall reflected the already manifold colours and angles, and were themselves lined and crossed like Piet Mondrian grids. The colours and patterns were neither soaring nor anxious but calm and relaxed. If they were in a shouting match, they would have had the last word.

Berendes, a Berlin-based artist whose show here was her first solo exhibition in London, is one of a number of young artists who have been using Formalism – in sculptures, paintings and design objects – not as strategy but as subject. Her geometrically patterned pieces have as much to do with their own interplay of colours and forms as with evoking the long history of those who have also used such compositions. The word ‘abstraction’ here becomes misleading as a description of her work: rather than abstracting a subject to reveal its inner qualities, Berendes’ more contextual Formalism widens its parameters to become about periods, styles, political movements and events that would be considered extraneous to a Modernist art work. Invited to participate in the 2005 show ‘Communism’ at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin, for example, Berendes showed one of her patterned fabric curtains, evoking the failed political movement through the style that was contemporaneous with its major revolution. In this exhibition the patterns held in the free-standing screens recall Bauhaus architects, Amish quilt-makers, the Modernist fabric designer Lilly Reich, the painter and printmaker Sonia Delaunay and 1980s’ Memphis furniture.

Berendes’ method of leaving the back of these large-scale screens open to view neatly demonstrates the mix of the high and the applied arts apparent in this list. While the front shows a neatly sewn-together pattern of forms – a flat face that stands perpendicular to the floor, held in square white wooden frames – the back demonstrates the making of this quilt, with strings that hang limply almost in a parody of the structure’s verticality. One thinks of Le Corbusier’s aphorism ‘The window is a man; it stands upright’, which Monica Bonvicini memorably pilloried with a sketch of a man standing by a window, erection in hand. Berendes’ screens, meanwhile, take a decidedly moderate view – they are only semi-transparent (or only semi-opaque) and, though emphatically vertical, more closely resemble quilts on beds than wall-hung canvases. If it seems arbitrary to apply a feminist litmus test to Berendes’ work, or to compare her to the more strident Bonvicini, it is because of the ambivalence with which Berendes (literally) frames the issues raised by her quotations. Her work gives off a sense of openness that accommodates clear or perceived disjunctions within the various contexts she evokes: not just between high art and design but also between women’s work – the painstaking, useful sewing of things together – and the high rhetoric of abstraction, perpetrated by a bunch of men bossing builders around or standing in their studios calling their work ‘Suprematist’. Berendes’ work really doesn’t deal with any of these opera buffa scenarios; it rather catholically refuses contradictions, and – with perhaps some irony – allows the work to speak for itself. The fluidity evoked by the semi-transparent fabric, its loose quilting and the tenuousness of its attachment to the frame suggest a history that is not yet fixed but which is open to continual evolution. Perhaps this is why her work gives the impression of both being quiet and having the last word – it knows that Formalism is still moving on.” – Melissa Gronlund, Frieze Magazine

Doug Aitken


Doug Aitken

Work from Still Life at Regen Projects.

“Regen Projects is pleased to present Still Life, an exhibition of new work by Los Angeles-based artist Doug Aitken. Spanning a variety of media encompassing photography, sculpture, publications, sound, and single and multi-channel video installations, Aitken’s work explores the modern landscape and posits possibilities for new uncharted frontiers. This exhibition, the artist’s fourth solo presentation at Regen Projects, will feature an installation of new sculptural objects within a labyrinthine space designed to create an experience of unexpected encounters and a sense of mystery and discovery for the viewer to navigate.

Taking its name from the traditional concept of nature morte, Aitken’s Still Life presents an immersive environment where place and time dissolves, where the individual exists adrift in an electrically charged space. Wending their way through the gallery, viewers are confronted with a series of signs and symbols that at first glance appear familiar but upon closer inspection reveal their foreign nature. A series of internally illuminated light box sculptures hover on the gallery walls. Combining text and image into physical form, they each represent the crystallization of an idea captured from the frenetic modern landscape.

Among the other works featured in the exhibition is a cast public pay phone bathed in a luminous glow. Appearing as a relic of a bygone era and removed from its everyday function the work becomes a vessel emitting interactive light that brightens or dims depending on the viewer’s proximity to its surface. A sonic fountain combines water and sound creating a visceral optical and auditory experience. A hexagonal sculpture features a collage photo of an aerial view of the LA freeway system infinitely reflected in a series of mirrors, creating a kaleidoscopic vision. Existing as a series of ruptures, the works in Aitken’s subconscious twilight terrain unfold in a parallel of time and space, perceptually suspended in time.” – Regen Projects

Mika Tajima

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Mika Tajima

Work from The Extras

Conceived as a film set, stage, greenroom, and prop house structure, The Extras includes a selection of sculptural works, both previous and new, performances, a video and a slide piece. Scattered throughout the ground floor in scenario arrangements, the sculptures double as “actors” waiting in the wings, on set, put to task, others stowed in racks on the side. This mise en scène employs formal devices such as framing and painting tropes, elements of interior design and architecture to delineate various positions of inclusion and exclusion, obstruction and transparency, segment and surplus.”

Melissa Gordon

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Melissa Gordon

Work from her oeuvre.

“‘Material Evidence’ was Melissa Gordon’s first solo exhibition in a public space in the UK, the result of a residency hosted by Spike Island and Spike Print Studio. As well as site-specific productions, the show included work from three ongoing series – Gordon’s continuing investigations into the legacy of Modernist abstraction and the intimacies of process. The particular success of ‘Material Evidence’ was how Gordon synthesized in her site-specific work both her inter-series dialogues and her response to the eight-metre-high main gallery.

This response was Structures for Viewing (2013), a two-colour triptych and diptych. Each set of canvases comprises screen-printed blocks of halftone lines on the diagonal, and, suspended a couple of metres in front of these, wooden frames strung with nylon cords of contrasting colours, threaded on the opposing diagonal. Patterns of disturbance occurred where blocks had been overlaid, while further interference could be introduced by the visitor, either via his or her movement through the gallery, or by viewing the prints through the half-mesh of the suspended screens. To walk between screen and canvas felt disruptive.

Process – or, rather, the evidence of process – is the focus of Gordon’s ‘Material Evidence’ series, which she began in 2011. The two paintings created for this show, Material Evidence (Table)and Material Evidence (Wall) (both 2013), were based on photos of the work surfaces in Gordon’s London studio, the images blown up and cropped to highlight details then re-created on canvas. The series title recalls an earlier painting of Gordon’s, Crimeboard for an Elusive Primadonna (2005), a montage of images from an incident room. ‘Material Evidence’ similarly depicts a presence indicating an absence, a series of traces in place of a missing referent.

The term ‘Material Evidence’ suggests proof, but also justification – a loaded term in the context of Gordon’s ‘Blow Up’ series (2011), her study of Western Modernism’s legacy of patriarchal abstraction. Gordon is on the look-out for weaknesses in the male line: she researches reproductions of works by canonical artists (Mondrian, Pollock and Van Doesburg), specifically, images that reproduce visible traces of deterioration in the original work. She then abstracts from these abstracts: enlarging these signs of distress, she highlights the works’ limited life span as objects in the world, simultaneously extracting from them new abstractions. The resulting black and white screen-prints suggest the inkiness and granularity of photocopies of photocopies; they speak of well-worn, over-handled images.

Similar strategies of mediation and abstraction are evident in a third line of enquiry, the series ‘The Daily News RIP’ (2013), in which Gordon engages with the structures of newspaper layouts to create scenarios for abstract composition. Taking the front pages of now-defunct newspapers, Gordon empties them of text and uses the remaining grid structures as the basis for full-colour paintings. This exercise brings to mind Kenneth Goldsmith’s Day(2003), where he transcribed all the text printed in The New York Times on 1 September 2000. The weighting of news items via the paper’s layout and grid structure was removed in Goldsmith’s act of transcription, hierarchies of significance destabilized by facile juxtapositions. In Gordon’s two diptychs, Daily Evening Star/The Washington Star (1852–1981) and Daily Evening Transcript/Boston Evening Transcript (1848–1941) (both 2013), suggestions of informational hierarchy were retained by the structures, despite their being emptied of text: her use of colour to fill in the grids suggested an encoding, rather than an elimination, of the original content.

Thematic ley lines cut across this show, paralleling the cross-hatching created in Structures for Viewing by the interactions be­tween viewer, canvas and screen. These cross-currents were not restricted to the gallery: the field of response and counter-response extended across the nearby river, to the Arnolfini Gallery and Ian Hamilton Finlay’s exhibition there: among the hundreds of postcards on display was one bearing the text, ‘Join the Saint-Just Vigilantes and be a counter-composition.’ The accompanying image, a black abstract which brought to mind one in Gordon’s own ‘Blow Up’ series, with a note from Finlay: ‘acknowledgement to Theo van Doesburg’.” – Natasha Soobramanien, Frieze Magazine 

Mike Womack


Mike Womack

Work from his oeuvre.

“In his fourth exhibition with the gallery, Mike Womack presents 14 works of sculpture that act as mnemonic mausoleums. This body of work was conceived in the winter of 2011, while the artist was caring for his ailing mother, who was struggling with long and short term memory. Having a prior interest in various scientific subjects and theories (including mirror neurons), Womack came across the work of neuroscientist Yadin Dudai and was struck by his comment that recollections are corrupted each time one thinks of them, and thus “the safest memories are those in the brain of people who cannot remember.”

Womack compiled a list of compelling memories and worked with a hypnotherapist to retrieve the unrecalled memories. During the sessions, the artist, an accomplished draftsman, would make charcoal drawings of each memory before the hypnotist instructed him to forget the content of their sessions. With the help of the therapist and an assistant, the drawings were covered, catalogued by the memory and the artist’s age at the time, and then never seen by the artist.

“I wanted to extract early memories in the form of drawings and re-entomb them in a surrogate vault so that one could see the residue of the extraction but never truly know what’s there – so I decided to cast them in concrete. I was drawn to this fragile understanding of knowledge – that to know something is to ruin it. I see this starkly paralleling the Uncertainty Principle or Observer Effect and in this regard relates closely to my previous work on technology. After each drawing we spent a lot of time doing exercises that would allow me to forget and have no memory of what I’d drawn. I truly recall very little from these meetings and I have never seen any of the drawings, beyond the margins that are now visible in the sculptures. I then spent 9 months learning how to cast a sheet of paper into a block of concrete. I determined the best way was using glass fiber reinforced concrete in various combinations with steel, fiberglass mesh, and basalt rods. Each drawing is cast in just one pour – making for the strongest bond. I cast them while they were slip-sheeted and at the last moment I would pull off the slip sheet and place the drawing into the mold face down, so that the image was never visible to me.”

Womack’s concept aesthetically codifies an idea of uncertainty by casting the memory drawings in inscrutable concrete, a heartbreaking, obliterative dance with quantum mechanics. The lyrical charcoal gestures are subsumed by the comparatively stark, industrial material of their blocky, monolithic outer armor. With only the faintest charcoal scuffs as ghostly hints of evidence, each sculpture’s silent weight directly confronts the viewer’s imagination. The works are of varying size and shape; they lean, hang, rest on the floor and are mounted on the wall or pedestals. The result is both a deeply provocative, emotional investigation and an object lesson in the methods of display of modern sculpture, consolidating the visual whole in historical terms.

That both his parents passed away during the making of this body of work only enhances the potent poignancy of these sculptures. Accessing his earliest memories and then having the self control to preserve them unseen offers the epistemological consolation that knowing is possible.” – Zieher Smith Gallery