SIMON STARLING IN CONVERSATION WITH MARCIA E. VETROCQ FOR BROOKLYN RAIL
Peripatetic and prolific, Simon Starling (b. 1967) has traveled to and across five continents since the early 1990s to research, fabricate, photograph, film, perform, and install his work. Extravagant labor and a disarming absurdity—the operative questions seem to have been “what if?” and “why not?”—were wedded to the punctiliousness of a historian in early projects such as Rescued Rhododendrons, 1999, for which Starling drove seven of the unwanted bushes from Scotland (where they have proliferated as weeds) “back” to Spain, whence the plant had been imported in the 18th century. The straightforward action of the syllabically baroque Autoxylopyrocycloboros (2006) consists of powering a boat across Loch Long by feeding its steam engine the very wood of which the boat was made. The predictable swamping of the cannibalized craft is a strange hybrid of success and failure. You would be forgiven for reading the project now as an allegory of mismanaged resources and rising waters, particularly in light of Starling’s recurring investigations into the systems and outcomes of the global transport of materials.
Marcia E. Vetrocq (Rail): The “Golden Door” of your title evokes the Statue of Liberty, and immigration policy has become a raw, divisive issue in this country since the 2016 campaign. But the migrant crisis has been mounting on both sides of the Atlantic for years. When did you first consider doing a project on immigration for your show in New York?
Simon Starling: The project has many precedents within my practice in general. For me The Liminal Trio plays the Golden Door is very closely related to the work that I made at Mass MoCA in 2008, The Nanjing Particles, which was triggered by the story of Chinese migrant workers coming to North Adams to break a strike in a shoe factory. I came across the story at a moment when America was obsessing about the effect of the booming Chinese economy on the American economy, a conversation which is still running, I suppose. On a political level and also on a formal level, the idea of the “archaeology” of a photographic image—trying to get below the surface—is key to both projects.
I feel that there’s also a connection to other shows that I’ve made here at the gallery. The Bird in Space project in 2004 was about a Brancusi sculpture brought by Marcel Duchamp to the United States that was not allowed free entry as an art work but was taxed as a piece of metal. That project was prompted by the then-current situation with a steel tax, which George Bush had imposed to curry favor with the Rust Belt vote. He was subsequently forced to rescind it because the World Trade Organization deemed it to be an illegal tariff. So, again, the trigger for investigating the art-historical story was very much a contemporary situation, and I tried to conflate those two stories into one work by importing a lump of Romanian steel as an art work to avoid the tax. There are also the birdhouses I made earlier for Inverted Retrograde Theme, USA (House for a Songbird), which was an investigation into the arrival of European Modernism in Puerto Rico during the 1960s. Somehow most of the works that I’ve shown here at the gallery have had some kind of relationship to the movement of people and things in and out of America. Thinking about my context and the moment in which the shows are being made is very much embedded in the way I conceive of works.
Rail: How did you arrive at the Augustus F. Sherman photographs as your way into the subject of immigration?
Starling: There were a number of different reasons for thinking about the Sherman photographs in the Ellis Island archive. One was seeing the rhetoric play out around the Brexit vote in Britain, which was at times absurd and hard to watch. You saw first- and second-generation immigrants railing against immigration. Also, over the summer I read this wonderful biography of Willem de Kooning, who came to New York around the time of the arrival of these immigrants who are at the center of my exhibition. De Kooning came from a very impoverished and tough life in Rotterdam, and it was interesting to read about his transition into American life, the urgency to forget the past and assume an American way of being. So, all these things came together to connect me to the Sherman photographs. I’d seen some of them years ago—I can’t remember exactly where, though I think one of the professors in my photography training had shown some of them in a lecture.
Rail: Can you take us through the components of the exhibition that arose from the photographs you chose?
Starling: The exhibition presents three characters—musicians—three times. There are enlargements of the rather small Sherman photographs, two of the three cropped, all blown up to be physical presences in the show—but images still. There are re-creations of their clothes and instruments, which are like theatrical costumes for some kind of reenactment. And then there is a twenty-six-minute audio recording. The first experience in the gallery is the music, which is played from three speakers, two on stands—almost figurative in a way—with the clog dancer’s speaker sitting on the floor, which seems appropriate. Then there are the costumes and instruments, which have been re-created in grayscale, and then the re-photographs of the originals, also in a kind of grayscale. So the three figures are each represented in three different forms. It’s the notion of the in-between or liminal state that these immigrants would have found themselves in on Ellis Island. It’s a trio that becomes nine figures in the exhibition. They’re “fractured.” I guess the idea is that the characters themselves occupy the space between all those representations.
Rail: Sherman’s subjects genuinely were in a kind of limbo.
Starling: Yes, the people that Sherman photographed had all been detained for various reasons, probably in what Trump would call “extreme vetting.” Some of them were sent back, and others eventually were let in. There were multiple reasons to do with documentation. And also I think at that moment there was a concern about certain groups coming, as there is now. So they were a kind of captive subject for Sherman.
Rail: How was the music created?
Starling: As well as making costumes we’ve also made grayscale instruments, which was quite a project. The instruments were used at the recording session by three contemporary musicians—Livia Vanaver, a clog dancer; Winne Clement, a kaval player; and Sean Folsom, a zampogna player. The recording session in Brooklyn had a very appropriate kind of energy, because the three of them had never met before. It was a sort of negotiation among people from different places and different traditions. It was awkward, and I think you can feel that in the recording in a very interesting way. The project is about the idea that three musicians who didn’t share a language could have come together and just started to make music in an informal fashion. In the recording, too, there’s a sense of three musicians exploring their relationship, finding out what works, what doesn’t. There’s a lot of ambient, empty space, with just squeaks and odd shuffles. It goes from being very sparse and nonmusical to being vast. When the three of them all get going, it’s quite something.
Rail: I don’t recall the human figure generally having a significant role in your work. There are exceptions, of course, like the Chinese laborers in the stereograph used in The Nanjing Particles. When you re-imagined the Noh performance in At Twilight or enlarged the Sherman photographs, did you feel that you were working with the human figure?
Starling: For me it’s more about ghosts—human figures but in dematerialized forms. I suppose it goes back to At Twilight and the Japanese Noh idea of ghosts possessing actors in the mirror room, which is where they put on their masks. The physical manifestation of the immigrants in The Liminal Trio is a sort of invocation, an attempt to summon the ghosts, perhaps, to occupy this liminal space that I’ve tried to establish. If three musicians found themselves in this kind of in-between state, sharing no common language, what might they have done? It’s a sort of speculative proposition.
Rail: When we first spoke about At Twilight and your effort to reconstruct Yeats’s At the Hawk’s Well, you used the expression “creative misunderstanding” to describe the idea that not having the information for a complete re-creation allowed—
Starling: —Yes, something new to be born. In the video based on the performance we did at The Common Guild in Glasgow, Javier de Frutos talks very beautifully about how this was what attracted him to the idea of choreographing the “Hawk’s Dance.” The entire At Twilight project is based on so little information. Only these tiny fragments have survived—the odd drawings by Edmund Dulac, the little fragment of music, these few photographs by Alvin Langdon Coburn, and, of course, Yeats’s script of the play itself. There’s the feeling that you’re dealing with a sort of amnesia, a gray area of knowledge. It was this very rarefied event in high society, a performance in London in 1916 which was witnessed by a handful of people, never reported by the press because the press was effectively banished. All that exists is hearsay and gossip and odd fragments. In both projects there is this beautiful space for a reimagining of things. The grayscale costumes for the Hawk and for the three musicians all speak to that sense of amnesia, or partial amnesia. You don’t know this beautiful Romanian kaval player pictured by Sherman or what the color of the decoration on his jacket was. With the reconstruction of At the Hawk’s Well, there was a powerful sense of not knowing. It became an evocative thing to dive into. And the not knowing was as important as the facts, the concrete things. I think it’s very much the same with The Liminal Trio.
Another interesting thing is, after I had started looking at the Sherman photographs again, I discovered that there was this project underway to colorize the black-and-white photographs. I guess there’s serendipity involved, but because of the political situation at the moment, these things have a kind of currency. In a weird way, that colorization process is doing something similar to what I’m trying to do, or, rather, what I’ve done is actually the opposite—to accentuate our lack of knowledge of the color through the re-creation of these costumes in grayscale.
Rail: In a 2013 interview you described yourself as being “interested in what it means to make something in a culture in which our connections with making and manufacture are increasingly distant.” You’ve used advanced digital technology in your work for some time. How do you view the connection between digital fabrication and “making”?
Starling: It’s a reality of “making” now. The large black-and-white silver prints were made for The Liminal Trio by Griffin Editions here in New York. They were made from black-and-white negatives that were scanned and then written onto the paper, essentially by a laser. As I experience it, there are these shifts all the time from the material to the immaterial and back again in any kind of making process now. I like that. We talked about this idea of the potentials of misunderstandings or mistranslations, and there’s this potential in the “slippage,” as I call it, that happens from one state to another. It seems to be an ongoing aspect of what I’m doing physically, and also in terms of the way forms and narratives change and evolve through time.
Rail: The creative misunderstandings intrinsic to your re-creation of At the Hawk’s Well in At Twilight build upon the initial creative misunderstandings of Yeats and Pound as they set out to stage an “authentic” Noh drama. In the case of The Liminal Trio, did you supplement the information that can be gleaned from the Sherman photographs in any way?
Starling: To some degree, yes, but for me the most interesting thing was how the musicians would respond, because they’re all very knowledgeable about the history of their instruments. I asked each of them to think before the recordings about what these three individuals might have brought with them in terms of their musical language from Romania, southern Italy, and Holland. Then the recording session was about trying to find a point of connection. It was a tough day, in a way, because they all have their own sense of quality, and I suppose they all projected prior to the recordings what they thought was going to be born out of this. The hope is that you feel that process of negotiation unfolding in the music that’s been generated. It’s a tentative conversation as a piece of music.
Rail: Is it just the impression that one gets from the successive presentation of these two shows in New York, or are you exploring collaboration in your work more deeply via theater, dance, and musical performance?
Starling: It goes back a long way in the work, but I’ve found it so amazingly energizing and enriching to bring other people on board and also to be able to take a step back from the making and allow a certain critical distance. Being able to work with Yasuo Miichi, this extraordinary mask maker in Osaka, and to start to analyze his creative process, working with musicians and choreographers—it’s a real luxury. For The Liminal Trio we put on the gallery wall an extensive credit list of all the people who’ve been involved in making this show. In a way it’s a list of immigrants, and their names become very powerful in relation to the themes of the show. You see a complex geography played out just in the names of the people who’ve been involved—tailoring, hat-making, recording, mixing, framing. It seemed a very fitting statement to make.
Rail: Apropos of the acknowledgments at the gallery, you share credit with Graham Eatough for conceiving, writing, and directing the performance of At Twilight at The Common Guild, and the list of creative and technical contributors to that work is pointedly titled “Collaborators.” Similarly, the heart of the current show is an improvised composition performed by three musicians. Tell me more about this progression from research to collaboration and performance.
Starling: In a way, my approach to the play At Twilight evolved from making these rather more narrative film works, like Project for a Masquerade or Black Drop, in which there was a kind of authoritative narration, and also from the way I’ve used artist’s talks as a central part of the practice. The lecture theater has become an important space for me to “perform” the work. I think At Twilightcomes from thinking about the way that ideas are pieced together in that kind of context.
The collaboration evolved from our working relationship, with Graham being a specialist in staging and myself more of a storyteller. And it also lent a nice dynamic to the other relationships—Yeats and Pound, the characters of the old man the young man. And it was actually very seamless. The first time I met with Graham to talk about the collaboration, I had pieced together this “mind map,” just as a sort of tool to start to discuss the areas of interest and how that all connected in my mind. It was extraordinary how fast Graham was able to lock into that and come on board in a very generous and open way. We decided quite early on that we were both nervous about the idea of putting words into the mouths of poets, because that seemed like a foolhardy operation. So we decided that rather than “write” the play, it would be more of a process of collaging. I had a folder of texts, a huge reservoir of letters that Yeats had written to various people at that time, correspondence between Pound and Gaudier-Brzeska, texts by Pound about Noh and by Yeats about Noh, and so on. I’d gone through all that material and cut out texts that I thought could work very well. I have these pin boards in my studio which I wheel around the place, and I started to collage those on. Then Graham arrived for the first time, and we started to pick things out and define certain kinds of scenes. The transition from the research process to the making process was seamless. When I read or watch the play now, it’s impossible for me to decide which bit is Graham and which bit is me. We had an incredibly symbiotic relationship, and it’s not always like that with collaborations. People can get kind of territorial about ideas. But I think it was a very smooth, very natural transition from the beginning stage of research. And I think Graham felt quite excited by the volume and the nature of the material that I had put together, so he dived into the writing process—“compositing” is perhaps the best word for it—very easily and very fast.
Rail: I’d like to return to your earlier comment about the Bird in Space project and the pertinence of President Bush’s steel tariffs. Elsewhere you’ve pointed out additional contemporary connections, such as the fact that the Romanian company which provided the steel for your work had been acquired by an Indian steel magnate who was a big contributor to Tony Blair’s Labour party. In Project for a Masquerade (Hiroshima) you recast a 16th-century Noh play as a Cold War yarn, and included the collector Joseph Hirshhorn, who made a fortune in uranium mining thanks to the Atomic Energy Commission. For the 2013 – 14 show Pictures for An Exhibition, you traced the provenances of the Brancusi sculptures in the 1927 Chicago Arts Club exhibition to their current owners. Your essay on provenance is deeply detailed, yet understated, very unlike a Hans Haacke-style exposé. You seem to approach hot issues in a very cool way. What are your thoughts on the politics of your work?
Starling: The Pictures for an Exhibition work was made for the Arts Club, which is a very particular organization whose members are generally wealthy business people with an interest in the arts, often patron-collectors. It seemed an interesting situation within which “unpack” that culture a bit. The work took two installation views of the 1927 exhibition on a crazy, long detour. In order to reconstruct them, I had to first find out where all those sculptures were now. And in doing that, you start to move back through time to connect the present with the various hands that those things have gone through. Interesting characters suddenly pop up—the president of Microsoft or Phyllis Lambert, the daughter of Samuel Bronfman, the whiskey and oil billionaire. There are, of course, gaps in the history of all of those things still, even though Brancusi is well researched. It became a kind of mapping of the lives of these objects, and the notes that I wrote for the piece are for me a very important part of the work. I think there are a few instances in the way I’ve formulated those notes where I probably betray a bit of my political sense. But I always try to hold back from a didactic political approach. For me, the politics should seep out of the work in a much more surreptitious way. It’s subtext, but it’s all there.
Rail: The title you chose for the Arts Club essay is from a Picabia painting called This Thing Is Made to Perpetuate My Memory. Tell me about that choice.
Starling: The painting is in the collection of the Arts Club, and it was one of the first things I saw when I arrived there to start work on the project. It stuck in my mind. Who is the character whose memory this is? The implication is that it’s almost a machine in the work. It seemed to embody very nicely, but very lightly, the venture that I was on with the making of my work and the writing of that text. It was a very simple system or mechanism to get from one place to another, or in that case to get back to where you start. I guess that Picabia title talks to the camera for me, the act of photographing. One of the thirty-six photographs in the series I made for that exhibition is an image of the part of the painting which contains the written title, and you can see my camera reflected in the glass of the painting.
Rail: Your notes on Brancusi provenance add up to an intricate and vivid account. After reading those and attending your lecture at Japan Society, I’ve come to think of you as very much a storyteller. Archival research and narrative performance—which can remain distinct areas of practice—come together happily in your work.
Starling: In the end that’s what connects it all—the desire to tell a good story. It’s no more complicated than that, in a way. I was thinking about lectures again the other day. I went to see Mark Leckey’s show at PS1. He does these amazing performance/lectures which for me are the most interesting part of his practice—he’s thinking in a very generous way for an audience. You feel that more and more. There’s Hito Steyerl, who was in Copenhagen recently doing a lecture, and she’s fantastic at it. It’s very interesting, this kind of interdisciplinary realm where artists find themselves acting as an entertainer and a maker and an intellectual, all at once, in this very particular zone: the lecture theater.
Rail: Given your lectures, the extensive traveling that you do, and the value you place on being on site to undertake research and personally source materials for projects, would it be fair to detect an almost diaristic quality in your work?
Starling: In a way my body—how I move through the world and work and travel—is always there or thereabouts in the thing, but always pressed into the background. And I suppose that’s how I feel comfortable with it—always stepping back a little bit. I also think this sense of the diary grows as the practice grows. The life lived becomes more and more important, and inevitably seems to haunt the work.
Art in America Reviews Diego Perrone, Self Portraits
Glass is a material long associated with illumination, enlightenment, and the divine. The cast glass sculptures featured in Italian artist Diego Perrone’s exhibition “Self Portraits” hold out the promise of personal revelation. Elegantly displayed on white plinths, many of the untitled works (all 2016) are vaguely cranial in shape. But instead of offering a transparent glimpse into the seat of reason and intellect, the sculptures appear as elegant monuments to opacity. Perrone adulterated the glass forms by adding minerals and pigments in uneven patches during the casting process. Brilliantly colored crusts give way to clouds of mellow hues that seem to diffuse slowly through the glass. Other aspects of the casting process were executed with mechanical precision. Crisp and detailed renderings of ears, koi fish, and tractor equipment emerge from the works’ surfaces. These forms have previously appeared in Perrone’s sculptures, and here they look almost like stock images rather than personal symbols. More reminiscent of Medardo Rosso’s impressionistic sculptures than stained glass windows, Perrone’s “Self Portraits” embody a notion of self that melds alluring display and an act of withdrawal.
CASEY KAPLAN AT ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH
DECEMBER 1 – 4
PREVIEW: NOVEMBER 30
KEVIN BEASLEY, MATTHEW BRANNON, SARAH CROWNER, N. DASH, TRISHA DONNELLY, HARIS EPAMINONDA, JONATHAN GARDNER, LIAM GILLICK, GIORGIO GRIFFA, BRIAN JUNGEN, MATEO LÓPEZ, DIEGO PERRONE, HUGH SCOTT-DOUGLAS, SIMON STARLING AND GARTH WEISER
Kevin Beasley and N. Dash at Two x Two Auction
TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art is an annual contemporary art auction held in the Richard Meier-designed Rachofsky House in Dallas, benefiting two organizations—the Dallas Museum of Art and amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research.
Thanks to the phenomenal support of the dealer and artist community, corporate sponsors, and Dallas patrons, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art’s annual benefit gala dinner and art auction has raised over $60 million in its 17-year history in support of amfAR’s AIDS research initiatives and the DMA’s contemporary art acquisition program. The 2015 event raised a record-breaking $8.6 million.
TWO x TWO is such a successful event because it provides an opportunity to support two very worthy organizations. amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, has made great strides in essential AIDS research initiatives over the last 25 years, and TWO x TWO has become amfAR’s largest fundraiser in the United States. The Dallas Museum of Art has added over 220 major works of contemporary art to their permanent collection with TWO x TWO proceeds donated to their Contemporary Art Acquisition Fund and exhibitions. TWO x TWO is also the DMA’s largest annual fundraiser.
Drawing prominent artists, art collectors and philanthropists from around the world, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art has evolved into a week full of social events aimed at recognizing the progress of amfAR and engaging the arts community here in Dallas. An eagerly anticipated event that quickly sells out, the benefit features a seated dinner for 450 guests with both a live and silent auction of major works of contemporary art and unique luxury items. The following day, amfAR presents its Award of Excellence for Artistic Contributions to the Fight Against AIDS at an intimate luncheon at The Warehouse.
The Saturday night gala and auction, conducted by Jamie Niven, has included VIP celebrity guests such as Harry Belafonte, Alan Cumming, John Benjamin Hickey, Cheyenne Jackson, Taylor Dayne, CeeLo Green, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Shirley MacLaine, Barry Manilow, Liza Minnelli, Natasha Richardson, Gavin Rossdale, Sharon Stone, Dita Von Teese, Robin Thicke, Stanley Tucci and Sigourney Weaver. Renowned artists Cecily Brown, Peter Doig, Tom Friedman, April Gornik, Mark Grotjahn, Wade Guyton, Jim Hodges, Ellsworth Kelly, Elizabeth Peyton, Richard Phillips, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Julian Schnabel, Joel Shapiro, Luc Tuymans, and Christopher Wool have been honored. The 2016 gala will honor artist Laura Owens.
Casey Kaplan at Frieze London 2016
Bid on a Giorgio Griffa at the The Drawing Center Auction, September 27
The Drawing Center’s
Annual Benefit Auction
Tuesday, September 27th, 2016
6:30-8:00 pm cocktails and silent auction
35 Wooster St., NYC 10013
Proceeds from the Giorgio Griffa piece will go towards supporting Mateo López: Undo List, opening at the Drawing Center in January 2017.
Tickets are available now! Please click here to purchase a ticket.
If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to support The Drawing Center, please click here.
Jonathan Gardner was named one of the 15 New York shows to see in September
September 8 – October 22, 2016
A year after Gardner’s paintings made buzzy appearances at LISTE and Art Basel in Miami Beach, the New York-based artist rings in his New York solo debut with a grouping of large-scale canvases. Building on his breakout body of stylized, just-left-of-surrealist tableaus, he fills his new work with elegant hodgepodges of traditional Modernist devices—supine nudes, fractured space, and tromp l’oeil details among them. But there’s a contemporary twist. The edges of each form are so smooth that they recall Photoshop concoctions. And house plants make witty reference to our current obsession with perfectly-potted succulents, while clothing and walls adorned with angular patterns look as though they’ve been lifted from your coolest friend’s Instagram feed. All this is to say, Gardner’s paintings carry more than the associations conjured by the reclining nude. They also embody—and question—today’s penchant for personal curation.
N. Dash has been included in Artsy’s, 21 New York Gallery Shows Where You’ll Find Exciting Young Artists This May
Dash places great emphasis on physical contact in her artistic process, channeling her body into her work through touch. Indeed, for her first show with Casey Kaplan, the New York- and New Mexico-based artist has created visceral, elegant compositions by layering canvas, linen, and jute over adobe panels; where these disparate materials meet, edges fray, strings dangle, and fabric wrinkles compellingly, almost like skin or an aging blanket. Other works show ghostly, abstract forms resembling auras. For these, Dash silkscreened images of small cloth sculptures she has shaped spontaneously with her hands throughout her career onto the terra cotta-hued substrate.
N. Dash named one of the 17 Must-See Shows During Frieze New York
N. Dash at Casey Kaplan, May 3 through June 18 (121 West 27th Street)
For her debut with the gallery, the artist presents silkscreen works derived from the shape of pieces of fabric that she manipulates and worries through the course of a typical day, with the resulting “dirty wads of hugging threads” generating largely chance-based imagery.
Haris Epaminonda, VOL. XVII in The New York Times T Magazine
In the Flower District, Galleries Bloom
BY KAT HERRIMAN
MARCH 30, 2016
Slotted between the wholesalers, flower peddlers and midrange hotels, a new crop of galleries have sprung up in New York’s flower district. They’re in the area for various reasons, but they share one thing in common — a love for their neighborhood. “We decided to move into the flower district and Tin Pan Alley because it has history and personality, like our gallery. It’s a part of a New York that exemplifies what this city used to be like,” says Galeria Nara Roesler’s artistic director, Alexandra Garcia Waldman. Waldman oversees the Brazilian gallery’s recently opened outpost on Tin Pan Alley — the stretch of 28th Street between Sixth Avenue and Broadway — but this is not the curator’s first time in the city; she went to school here and has been back and forth ever since. This April, Waldman promotes the films of Cao Guimarães, one of Brazil’s most prolific artists of the 1980s. As Guimaraes’s first solo show in New York, the exhibition exemplifies the gap Nara Roesler hopes to fill in the cultural landscape.
Turn right out of Galeria Nara Roesler and you’ll see the neon of Planthouse, an independent gallery that takes its name from its first home, a wholesale florist on 27th street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. When their previous landlord told Planthouse’s owners, Katie Michel and Brad Ewing, that their gallery would be demolished, they scored a second-story space across the avenue. Both printers by day, Michel and Ewing rely on outsiders for curatorial direction. Their upcoming show, “Dark Star: Abstraction and Cosmos,” curated by Raymond Foye, looks at the universe through the eyes of eightartists including Jordan Belson, Tamara Gonzales and Sally Webster. While Ewing and Michel love the industrial feel of the area, they really chose it because of its proximity to their day jobs at Grenfell Press. “It was really convenience for us,” says co-owner Ewing. “I’ve been commuting here for 11 years. When we found the flower shop, it just felt right.”
A block away, the veteran dealer Casey Kaplan just celebrated his one-year anniversary on 27th Street. The gallerist moved to the neighborhood in 2015 after finding an ideal space for a white cube among the mostly commercial offerings. “I had been looking in Manhattan for about a year,” Kaplan says. “When I saw this space, I believed it was a place the gallery could inhabit for the next 10 years.” The current show, “Haris Epaminonda: Vol. XVII,” makes use of the space’s refurbished architecture with references to display and structure. Epaminonda’s sculpture vignettes, made of pedestals, vases and models, bring to mind the eclectic amalgamation of purveyors and manufacturers right outside the gallery doors. Familiarizing themselves with the area, Kaplan and his team are continually discovering new hole-in-the-wall shops. “I didn’t set out to be here, but I like the neighborhood,” Kaplan admits. “It’s very much real New York.”
Liam Gillick, Phantom Structures on Artnews
LIAM GILLICK AT CASEY KAPLAN
By Alex Greenberger
In the 20 years since he burst onto the international art scene, Liam Gillick has been loosely affiliated with the YBAs and the relational aesthetics contingent, but this British artist doesn’t fall cleanly into either group. His work is more cerebral than that of other YBAs, and denser and more grounded than the relational-aesthetics adherents. So where does Gillick fit? The simple answer is: nowhere.
As this Casey Kaplan exhibition, titled “Phantom Structures,” makes clear, Gillick’s work was ahead of its time—more like what younger artists are doing today than what his mid-career colleagues are producing.The artist’s predilection for sans-serif gibberish, printed here in the form of vinyl wall text, persists, as do his Donald Judd–inspired Plexiglas sculptures. The pristine coldness of the installation evokes a dysfunctional office space.
Gillick has written extensively about capitalism, production, and consumption, and it’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole of art theory when thinking about his work. One could spend hours pondering whether Gillick is referring to Constructivism or Minimalism, or whether his text works are intended to be critical of corporate language.
BOOK LAUNCH: MATEO LÓPEZ XYZ
FRIDAY DECEMBER 11, 4 – 6 PM AT CASEY KAPLAN
The artist will be joined in conversation with Senior Curator Claire Gilman of the Drawing Center on the subject of López’s current exhibition: A Room inside a room, on view at Casey Kaplan through December 19.
Mateo López’s XYZ, an artist book published by S/W Ediciones in a limited edition of 150 and a deluxe edition of 30, all signed and numbered by the artist, operates in part as an archive of plans and diagrams applied in the construction of the artist’s paper sculptures, and as insight into the inner-workings of the logic applied within each tactful maneuver. With every skillfully crafted sculpture or work on paper, intent subsists within the subtlety of a predetermined line or fold. In revealing the technical and foundational support established in the process, the pages of the book exist in and of themselves as distinct works on paper, pulling the viewer into the mechanisms of López’s psyche. Enclosed inside each individual edition rests a single cutout piece of paper taking shape in varying formations, such as a butterfly or a pair of eyeglasses; an extraction removed from the book itself is translated into an ethereal artifact waiting to be uncovered. Special thank you to Ana Sokoloff at S/W Ediciones.
Book specifications (for both Deluxe and Limited editions):
- Fifty-six pages, french-folded screen printed cover
- Fifty-four images printed in archival ink, based on artist’s pencil drawings
- The closed case size is 8.5 in. wide x 10.5 in. high x 1.25 in. deep
- The cruciform case is handmade with a lace tie
Deluxe Edition with Original Artwork:
- Handmade clamshell case is screen printed
- The case’s upper box holds one cutout sculpture pinned to a screen printed sheet
- The case’s lower tray holds the book
- The closed case size is 9.25 in. wide x 11.75 in. high x 4.5 in. deep
Mateo López (b. 1978, Bogotá, Colombia) is currently included in the exhibition United States of Latin America, curated by Jens Hoffmann and Pablo León de la Barra at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit through January 3, 2016. His work has been exhibited internationally, having presented solo exhibitions at the Museo de Arte Moderno, Medellin, Colombia (2014); The Jerusalem Center for the Visual Arts, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel (2012); Gasworks, London (2010); and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (2009). In 2013, López was featured in the exhibition “A Trip from Here to There” at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, an exhibition centered around his work by the same title, curated by Jodi Hauptman and Luis Pérez-Oramas. The artist has also participated in past group exhibitions including The Drawing Room, London (2015); The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2013); 43 Salon Nacional de Artistas, Colombia (2013); Mercosur Biennial (2011); and 29 Bienal de Sao Paulo (2010). López is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Berezdivin Collection, Puerto Rico; Inhotim, Minas Gerais, Brazil; Banco de la Republica, Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango, Bogotá, Colombia; Bienal de Cuenca, Ecuador; and CIFO, Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami, FL. López is slated to open a solo show at The Drawing Center, New York in January of 2017.
CASEY KAPLAN AT ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH
PREVIEW: DECEMBER 2
DECEMBER 3 – 6
FEATURING ARTISTS: KEVIN BEASLEY, MATTHEW BRANNON, NATHAN CARTER,
SARAH CROWNER, N. DASH, JASON DODGE, JONATHAN GARDNER, LIAM GILLICK,
GIORGIO GRIFFA, SANYA KANTAROVSKY, MATEO LÓPEZ, DIEGO PERRONE,
HUGH SCOTT-DOUGLAS AND GARTH WEISER
Artnews covers Jonathan Gardner now represented by Casey Kaplan
CASEY KAPLAN NOW REPRESENTS JONATHAN GARDNER
by Andrew Russeth
Jonathan Gardner, whose lush, richly colored, cartoon-inflected paintings abound with beautiful ladies (who are quite often topless), elegant patterns, and art-historical references, is now represented by Casey Kaplan in New York.
A representative for the gallery, which is based in Manhattan’s Flower District, said that Kaplan first came across the work in 2014 and that they will host a solo show by Gardner in September 2016.
Gardner has had one-person outings at Mary Mary in Glasgow, in 2014, and Corbett vs. Dempsey in Chicago, in 2011 and 2013, and was one in a two-person exhibition with Vanessa Maltese at Nicelle Beauchene in New York earlier this year.
In June, Mary Mary brought a selection of the New York–based artist to the Liste art fair in Basel, where they received quite a bit of attention. Looking forward to this upcoming show!
Casey Kaplan at Frieze London 2015
Casey Kaplan at Frieze London
October 14 – 17, 2015
Kevin Beasley, Nathan Carter, Sarah Crowner, N. Dash, Haris Epaminonda, Giorgio Griffa, Mateo López, Hugh Scott-Douglas, Garth Weiser
LEG/FLOOR/BODY/BASS, 2014, New Forms Festival, Vancouver, Canada. Photo: Nicole Gurney
Kevin Beasley performances at the High Line railyards
Untitled Stanzas: Staff/Un/Site
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Performance at 6:00 PM
High Line at the Rail Yards
On the High Line at West 30th Street and 12th Avenue
Free Admission | Open To All Ages | No RSVP Required
Kevin Beasley creates densely layered sculptures and sound-based performances that form immersive tactile experiences. With microphones embedded in cast plaster objects dragged across the gallery floor, or arranged in fleets to capture the sound of the artist’s movement, Beasley emphasizes the physical nature of sound, both in the mechanical waves by which sound travels, and in the insistence of one’s presence in the creation and experience of noise. The artist focuses on the personal memories we each bring to our experiences in both his performances and his sculptures, embedding them with objects and sounds imbued with personal experience. Beasley’s 2012 sound performance at MoMA featured the artist in the museum’s central atrium processing the voices of deceased rappers into cacophonous wails that shook the walls of the museum itself.
For the High Line, the artist will install and play a new sound composition at the 12th Avenue Overlook, on the High Line at West 30th Street and 12th Avenue. Over the few months leading up to the performance, Beasley traversed the High Line, recording sounds from around the park – from crickets chirping in the thicket at West 21st Street, to the evolving sound of various construction sites, to the meandering traffic on the West Side Highway. Beasley took greatest interest in the convergence of sounds at the rail yards, due to the wide open soundscape enabled by the lack of skyscrapers. In an attempt to engage one of the few remaining open-air pockets in Manhattan, the artist will amplify, accentuate, and process these recordings. Furthermore, each performance will be recorded and layered on top of the next, creating a changing, open-ended composition. Beasley says he imagines the work’s title as a score, each performance as a stanza, and the site as the medium or notes that fill the score.
Matthew Brannon’s Skirting the Issue named one of the five must-see shows in New York by Artinfo
Matthew Brannon at Casey Kaplan Gallery, through October 24 (121 West 27th Street)
Brannon’s series of new works — mainly using a letterpress, serigraph, or silkscreen technique — purports to “explore emotional registers within the context of the Vietnam/American War.” That mission, however, is obscured, or at least softened, by the nostalgic pull of Brannon’s aesthetic. Most of the pieces are forms of still life in which various objects and products seemingly suspended in midair. Brand names dominate — Chesterfield, Western Union, Heinz, Sno Sheen — with the occasional outlier item provoking a joke: a bottle of Liquid Paper, for instance, beneath a diploma from the New York Psychoanalytic Society, as if poking fun at Freud’s mistakes. The pall of war is mostly lost amid the clutter of domesticity and consumer goods, which is, perhaps, the point. A hint of the wider world, though, pops up in “Ready or Not,” 2015, in which a folded Order to Report for Armed Forces Physical Examination sits alongside a box of corn flakes, a novelty greeting card displaying Snoopy as Joe Cool, and a shuttlecock.
Matthew Brannon’s Skirting the Issue featured in Artforum’s Critics’ Picks
In Matthew Brannon’s latest output, candy-colored arrangements of objects and text—a wedding cake, a pack of Lucky Strikes, a bottle of vanilla extract—address the Vietnam War with a decorative aestheticism. This strategy may feel absurd, but Brannon deliberately avoids picturing scenes of violence, instead focusing on commodities, from a shuttlecock to a bottle of Heinz ketchup. These assemblages suppress violence almost to the point of invisibility, evoking a wartime America proceeding as if in an unaltered peacetime. In First Base (all works 2015), what initially seems a straightforward still life comprised of recreational equipment—a playing card, a World’s Fair souvenir, a record—is complicated by the fact that the record is a single of Barry McGuire’s 1965 protest song Eve of Destruction.
Leisure time and conflict are threaded through each other, and war mostly comes through indirect signifiers—world maps and international brand names that place the particularly “American” iconography within a larger context of global politics—or through civic imagery that has been so diluted as to be almost meaningless, as in an advertisement-like view of Washington’s monuments (Camelot). Clues to this latent violence abound. InPurple Heart, Brannon places a historically accurate draft notice, carefully reproduced via letterpress, among comparatively carefree detritus (a Peanuts greeting card, a box of Corn Flakes).
Concentrating on the conflict at home rather than on scenes of violence means that the images can also be funny. Three pictures of 1960s interiors, for example, are so pitch-perfectly bourgeois it’s easy to laugh: a rubber duck in the corner of a doctor’s office, a modish Braun radio. This comedic, almost satirical aspect offsets some of the nostalgia that underlies the abundance of domestically coded objects: If history is experienced through sentimental recollection in Brannon’s spare montages, farce can also subject that sentiment to critical reevaluation.
– Nicholas Chittenden Morgan
Artnews covers Hugh Scott-Douglas represented by Casey Kaplan
Hugh Scott-Douglas Joins Casey Kaplan in New York
By Andrew Russeth
New York’s Casey Kaplan gallery now represents Hugh Scott-Douglas, who is perhaps best known for abstract, pattern-rich panels and installations that he makes using a wide variety of techniques—from photography to laser cutting to inkjet printing—that take as their subject various methods and networks of production, translation, and transaction.
Scott-Douglas, who was born in 1988, is pretty busy at the moment, with solo shows on tap later this year at the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and Blum & Poe’s New York gallery, and another scheduled for the Togichi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts in Tochigi, Japan, next year.
Though his last solo show in New York was back in 2012 at Clifton Benevento, some New Yorkers may have caught his work in “Bloomington: Mall Of America, North Side Food Court, Across From Burger King & The Bank Of Payphones that don’t take incoming calls,” a commendably messy group show that Chelsea’s Bortolami gallery staged at a temporary space in their neighborhood last year.
Casey Kaplan featured in Artnet Best Gallery Booths at Art Basel
See 11 Of The Best Gallery Booths at Art Basel
3. Casey Kaplan Gallery
“I’m excited to be showing three women I’ve never shown before at Basel,” said Casey Kaplan when we entered the booth of his eponymous gallery. Those artists are Berlin-based Haris Epaminonda (represented by a piece of antique statuette), the paintings by N. Dash, who joined the gallery this past January, and a large black-and-white geometric abstraction by Sarah Crowner hanging on the exterior wall, which echoed work Crowner presented at Kaplan earlier this year (above).
Six gorgeously colored resin-cast works by Kevin Beasley that looked like medium-sized plastic crates, which had been peppered around the gallery, were sold as one work; it had already been placed in an important European collection. When asked about a recent New York Times article, which highlighted the difficulty of galleries to get into Basel, Kaplan, who has been coming to Basel for years, said that his mother took note. “After 20 years in the business,” said Kaplan, “it takes that article for my mother to say she’s proud of me.”