REVIEW: The Peripheral World: Lost and Wandering Thoughts Inspired by “Rubberneck” at Lorimoto Gallery

Written by Conor O’Brien, Living Gallery

Images are taken from the “Rubberneck” exhibition at Lorimoto Gallery, featuring works by Caroline Larsen, David Livingston, and Kenjiro Kitade, on display until March 23rd. Larsen creates paintings of burning vehicles in a distinctive, pixelated style. Kitade makes ceramic sculptures of nightmarish, vaguely humanoid beings. Video documents Livingston’s performance series “Big Dick,” in which the artist wears cartoonishly engorged, fabric genitalia in various public settings.

Caroline Larsen

Caroline Larsen

How much our experience is clamped into some form; how much we are directed down certain streets, in certain directions, toward certain destinations; how much even where we look, where we turn our gaze, toward what we focus our attention has been predetermined. Can we even fathom the extent of it? Great pains have been taken to ensure wandering is limited. Wandering in every sense: physical wandering and mental wandering are intimately connected. True wandering cannot and does not exist. At all times a person must be made to feel they are going somewhere, even (especially) if they have nowhere to go. For this reason, the brush is cleared, the wilderness is mowed down, the stars are read and from them new borders are woven westward, streets are painted with lines and arrows, stop signs, traffic lights, one way, do not cross, a blinking geometric mechanism that spins you in circles and makes certain you and your thoughts never stray far from its gravitational hold.

Kenjiro Kitade

Kenjiro Kitade

A person must always be made to feel they are accomplishing something; in every task there must be the element of progress. From the moment we exit the dreamstate, all of our energy is expended in the expectation of some goal. To feel a release of energy, however slight, that is not leashed to purpose, which floats off directionless and dissolves into a void, is to feel lost. And feeling lost is forbidden, not just by some external force: it is forbidden to ourselves by ourselves. We cannot imagine a feeling more deeply horrible than that; it produces our most troubling nightmares. This feeling is poignant, of course, because we sense it at the core of every task we undertake: that everything we do is just a distraction, obscuring something horrifying yet purifying that we simultaneously avoid direct contact with and try to access by indirect means.

David Livingston

David Livingston

We can accept anything as long as it has some explanation, but we will not allow senselessness, pointlessness, or uselessness, at least not for too long. There is a grace period where the senseless thing captures our fascination (in this case, the usual response is laughter), but beyond that it is excruciating, and then there must be an attempt to return it to the horizon of our understanding, to obscure it with explanation. Everything that we can see, we are allowed to see. If there was anything we weren’t allowed to see or weren’t allowed to discover, then we wouldn’t see it and we wouldn’t discover it. Or there would at least be extensive damage control after it was discovered (though perhaps even this is merely theatrics). A new discovery is always brought back into an existing framework of thought; it is always explained in a way that reaffirms (again and again and again) an existing belief system. Again, this is not necessarily done by some oppressive outside being: once we internalize a belief, value, or moral system to the extent that it determines the purpose towards which we expend energy, we will be quick to explain to ourselves how everything exists within the context of these systems to never have the feeling of wasted energy/ being lost.

Caroline Larson

Caroline Larsen

What does the scene of a car crash reveal to us? What is the meaning of the phenomenon of “rubbernecking,” so universal and seemingly necessary? When we approach the dissonance of a car wreck, we can not help ourselves: we have to look. As children we face the scene directly and with unashamed curiosity. As adults, it is usually indirect: in the peripheries of our vision where all manner of spectacle is secretly indulged. The car crash is an absolute absurdity to us: a violent waste of energy, an attack on the apparatus of sense to which we are harnessed. All the more so because it is “accidental,” because there is no ideology attached to the violence. Why are we permitted to see something so dangerously contradictory? In some countries, there are efforts to hide car accidents from onlookers, yet this cannot be done all the time and most likely wouldn’t be even if it were possible. It is necessary at times, for those who are concerned with such things, to let people witness the whole system in action. Immediately after the car crash, the system’s invisible dimensions announce themselves and descend upon the contradictory, senseless thing in order to contextualize it, in other words restore order to the situation. Such states of emergency or transgression are necessary in order for these invisible dimensions to make themselves known, to flex themselves, and we are allowed to view the initial scene of senseless violence because we are then able to witness the system at work, the restoration of peace and safety. The car accident, which in itself has no purpose or ideology, is then implicitly recontextualized as a warning, a warning to anyone who would transgress the system. It is made to serve as a reminder of how much we depend on this system for our safety and comfort; a reminder that what lies beyond the system is chaos and violence, and woe to those who wish to wander (physically or mentally) outside it.

Kenjiro Kitade

Kenjiro Kitade

Kenjiro Kitade

Kenjiro Kitade

The bottom falls out and we feel lucidly that we are falling, in the suffocating grip of vertigo. We feel, more acutely than ever, the contraction of the muscles, the harmony of the organs, the rush of blood to the heart and brain, the electrical flare of the neurons and nerve-endings that produce thought, that create the world, the full orgasmic release of energy: but to what end? where does it go? The whole exhausted edifice has shrivelled up, flaccid, detumescent. We have sunk below the surface. We have wandered too far. Even the solid reliability of our own bodies has suddenly dissolved somewhere. But where? We are for the moment conscious of the costumes, the sets, the whole noisy, colorful theater that obscures our blindness. The unacknowledged world we quarantined to our peripheral vision has descended upon us without warning. Our cataracts have disappeared and we are now facing the Peripheral World fully for the first time since our birth. Pause for a moment and glimpse the horrifying boundlessness of experience. For once let us look the situation square in the face, before the lucidity abates and we are deposited back into the solid world. Now we have a chance to build up from scratch new forms, new societies, new systems. Newer and better. Not that they are “better” in any objective sense, but they are better simply because they are new, because they are different, because they necessitated the destruction of the old forms, old societies, old systems, because this whole process keeps the world in a state of perpetual momentum and upheaval and revolt.

Caroline Larson

Caroline Larsen

All photos on this post are © Conor O’Brien 2014

Gallery Location: 1623 Hancock St.
Hours: Sat & Sun 1-6pm
Contact: info[at]lorimoto[dot]com

REVIEW: Synthetic-Organic Delirium: Thoughts On and Around “For Thinkin’ Long and Dark” at English Kills Gallery

Written by Conor O’Brien, Living Gallery

Images taken from Brent Owens’ show “For Thinkin’ Long and Dark,” at English Kills Gallery until March 30th

"For Thinkin' Long N' Dark"

“For Thinkin’ Long N’ Dark”

In the shadow beneath everything there is this seething discomfort that pushes outward, forever toward the sun. The city relegates domains to nature, parks and sidewalks where grass and trees sprout seemingly from some organic core, but this is purely nostalgic. They are planted on top of the edifice, and while they bend theatrically toward sunlight beneath a shallow coat of soil, their stunted roots tickle numb pavement.

"Flamin' Dogs"

“Flamin’ Dogs”

A city park is a great potted plant, a safe expression of that groaning core muted under countless leagues of steel and hollowed earth, muted but not subdued. The city is humanity’s indulgence in confusion manifest. The impotent desire to escape nature and the body that ends only in a synthetic recreation of the body, and nostalgic oases of nature.

"A Tourist Everywhere I Go"

“A Tourist Everywhere I Go”

The buildings we filter through, where we live and conduct our daily rituals, are an expression of corporeality cast in brick, rubber, and steel; abstract and geometric, but still distinctly bodily. And in the hollow spaces, the tunnels, the pores, the moist and dark pockets of the city, organisms sprout and spawn.

"Pale Blue Finger"

“Pale Blue Finger”

This constant, intimate interaction of live flesh on blind stone produces a masochistic delirium: the desire to be split open and spilled over sunheated cement; to release upon rock and brick that throbbing pink core, inverted and all nerve-endings; to fill every dead crevice and corner with living, fertile material; absolute sensory pressed against absolute numbness, synthetic-organic fused: this is the experience of city life.

"Flesh Wreath

“Flesh Wreath

This urban pastiche of materials organic and synthetic comes through in Brent Owen’s work. All of Owen’s sculptures use wood as their base material: stumps, driftwood, branches form the core of each piece.

"Leviathan"

“Leviathan”

The synthetic-organic interplay comes through by various means: in some pieces the wood is carved and painted to resemble neon lights, and a neon effect is recreated by shining an outside light-source on the sculpture;

"Butcher's Block"

“Butcher’s Block”

Several pieces resemble large tapestries, one even extending past the wall and curving onto the floor in the manner of fabric;

"Nightbird"

“Nightbird”

Other pieces, while retaining the original shape of the stump or tree branch, are painted and decorated with various objects (eagle decals, hawaiian leis, toy eyeballs, jewelery, etc.) in such a way that the forms enter the realm of the surreal.

"Out of the Sky"

“Out of the Sky”

Even when the objects are not expressly representing the body or human figure as in the case of “Flamin’ Dogs” and “Flesh Wreath,” even when they remain abstract or free associative there is still something vaguely corporeal about them, with their wrinkled, veiny exteriors, protruding limbs, and gaping orifices. “Out of the Sky” resembles a giant heart or stomach; “Mystery Cave,” while resembling a normal tree stump on the outside, has a fleshy, pink, and bejeweled interior.

"Mystery Cave"

“Mystery Cave”

The mixture of (usually dead) organic material with synthetic material is present in most kinds of art, but in Owen’s work, this association has been foregrounded. The dead organic material is given a new corporeality, a revived organic form, in part by being brought into contact with inorganic material, especially those which are associated with the body, as in wreaths, jewelry, piercings, tattoos.

"The Misfit"

“The Misfit”

Piercings and tattoos are significant in Owen’s work partly because they call to mind an everyday microcosm of a larger synthetic-organic co-evolution: to fill skin and veins with ink, a synthetic blood; to open and expose the skin with metal jewelry.

"Beiber Loaf"

“Beiber Loaf”

When one pierces oneself, the skin first reacts negatively, becomes irritated, and retreats from the alien object. Then the skin heals and (unsuccessfully) attempts to fuse with the object, to adopt the object into its physiology.

"Wizard Stick 1, 2, and 3"

“Wizard Stick 1, 2, and 3”

The injection of new technology into daily life follows this path: the eyes grow fond of artificial light; the lungs acclimate to exhaust-laced air, the stomach, to digesting mass-produced chemicals; the spine contorts to fit the harsh geometry of its environment; the body, the blood is kept alive on electricity and synthetic medicine. In that great laboratory, the city, these newer, stranger permutations of the human form are spawned generation after generation; and the old generations, like Dr. Frankensteins, look with horror upon the unrecognizable creations they’ve reared into being: pierced with metal, filled with ink, and speaking a strange tongue, their brains throbbing with ideas fearless and unholy.

"Mancave"

“Mancave”

All photos on this post are © Conor O’Brien 2014

Gallery Location: 114 Forrest St.
Hours: Sat & Sun 1-6pm
Contact: info(at)englishkillsartgallery(dot)com

AROUND TOWN: Exhibition at Schema Projects

Exhibition at Schema Projects

Location: 92 St Nicholas Ave between Hart and Suydam Brooklyn NY 11237
Contact: info@schemaprojects.com

Owen Schuh
Accumulations: Drawings & Notebooks
Exhibition Dates: January 24 – February 16, 2014Schema Projects

PRESS RELEASE:

Schema Project is pleased to present the first exhibition devoted to Owen Schuh’s works on paper.

Schuh describes his dense and delicate works as “seeking to illuminate the entwining relations between embodied mind, mathematics, and the physical world.” Mapped out on sheets of stained or darkened paper, his delicate geometric figurations unfold across the surface and express his concentration as their glow emanates and draws us in.

Through research, he chooses mathematical functions that model the interactions and structure of living systems. Cellular automata, circle packing, fractals, and other topics in discrete mathematics form the basis of these systems. These “functions” bear the structure of life, but operate in the parallel world of the mind: a world of simulacra inhabited by numbers and abstract relationships.

The structure of the work is handcrafted using, at most, the aid of a pocket calculator. In each piece, he strives to manifest phenomena unique to the interaction between the physical medium and the logical structure. As Schuh describes, “the mathematical formula is a virus that depends on a host to carry out its peculiar kind of life until it terminates or the medium or the artist is exhausted.” In the end, the drawing is really only the physical trace of this activity—in this case, like a shimmering shell left behind on the beach.

Owen Schuh (born 1982, in Stevens Point, Wisconsin) lives and works in San Francisco. Initially pursuing biology, Schuh earned a degree in Fine Arts and Philosophy from Haverford College and an MFA from The Tyler School of Art, in Philadelphia, and Rome, Italy. He has exhibited nationally and internationally and lectures periodically on his work and algorithmic art practice. His work is included in the Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. He recently completed a two year residency at the San Francisco artist collective Root Division, where he taught after school classes in origami to under-served public school students.

Schema Backspace:
Rachael Wren
Arboreal

Schema Projects

The work of Rachael Wren navigates the territory between the geometric and the organic. In this collection of work, not unlike the “Ideal Cities” of Renaissance artists, she creates an “Ideal Forest”. On a grid that maps out the forest floor, ribbon-like verticals sprout upward, suggesting a logical space. This “personal wood”, achieves a sense of air and space through the use of traditional atmospheric perspective.

However, the entire monochromatic environment seems vulnerable, as it might collapse at any moment, soft yet strong, in it’s combination of thin ruled line and pale grays. Using these sparest of means, Wren’s drawings explore the universal duality between two and three-dimensional form, structure and randomness, and the known and the unknown.

Content within this post © 2013 Schema Projects

AROUND TOWN: Holly Coulis – PITCHERS – at Sardine BK

Holly Coulis - PITCHERS(Image Source)

Text from their Facebook Event Page:

Sardine is pleased to present PITCHERS, a solo exhibition by Holly Coulis. The exhibition opens Saturday, February 1 from 6 to 9pm and will be up through March 2, 2014.

PITCHERS features Holly’s recent body of still life paintings. Having worked with portraiture and landscape in the past, she continues to subtly recontextualize these traditional genres. Here, the still life is an open platform to talk about painting and to display the nuances of everyday life. The pitchers, vases, fruits etc. are immediately familiar but with time, they bend away from the commonplace into floating shadows, bright lines, and dreamy color. Oftentimes, the perspective is slightly skewed, awkward shapes replace naturally occurring shadows, and minute details contrast with broad strokes. Instead of being dramatic or idealized, everything that happens is poetic, humorous and personal.

Holly Coulis was born in Toronto, Canada and has lived and worked in Brooklyn since 1999. Her work has been shown in Toronto, Zurich, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, and New York. She is represented by Cherry and Martin Gallery in Los Angeles and LaMontagne Gallery in Boston. Her most recent show was at Susanne Hilberry Gallery in Detroit.

Sardine is located on the ground floor of 286 Stanhope Street between Wyckoff and Irving Avenues in Bushwick, Brooklyn, one block from the Dekalb L train and near the Knickerbocker M. For more information, please visit sardinebk.com. Contact: Lacey Fekishazy and Jon Lutz at sardinebk@gmail.com

AROUND TOWN: Lots of exhibition openings!

LOTS OF OPENINGS AROUND BUSHWICK TODAY!

“Glorious Creatures,” an exhibition featuring artworks
by Jeff Davis, Deborah Mesa-Pelly, and Michael Wetzel.

Reception 6p-9p
Honey Ramka
56 Bogart St.
(646) 401-4431

Adam Simon: Swipe
Reception 6p-9p
Studio10
56 Bogart Street
(718) 852-4396

“PAST/FORWARD”
Reception 6p-9p
Amos Eno Gallery
1087 Flushing Avenue, Suite 120
(718) 237-3001

AZETTAGH
Reception 7p-10p
OUTLET Fine Art
253 Wilson Ave
(915) 525-0410

Reva Castillenti | Corporeal Digest
Reception 6p-9p
et al projects
56 Bogart Street
(914) 498-8328

Things That Barely Exist by Pancho Westendarp
Reception 6p-9p
Robert Henry Contemporary
56 Bogart St
(718) 473-0819

X-istential
Reception 6p-10p
Loft 594 Gallery
594 Bushwick Avenue
2nd Floor
(305) 205-9722

and a performance at
Grace Exhibition Space
“BODY/MASS” Performances
by Faith Johnson, Nyugen E. Smith,
Geraldo Mercado and Thomas Albrecht
Curated by Samuel Burhoe (with Jill McDermid and Esther Neff)
Doors 9:00 Performances 9:30-11:00 pm
Donation suggested $5-15
840 Broadway, 2nd Floor

REVIEW: Candy Colored Clown: Response to “Economy Candy” at Harbor Gallery

Candy Colored Clown: Response to “Economy Candy” at Harbor Gallery
written by Conor O’Brien, The Living Gallery

Ross Moreno is clown apparel

Ross Moreno is clown apparel

Justin Cooper, dressed in park ranger garb, introduces himself as yet another park ranger who has moved to Brooklyn. He explains that like most park rangers, he needs a side job to support himself: so he does performance art. This joke works mostly on the level of its simplicity, specifically the awareness of its own simplicity. Most of the performance operates on this hyper-aware level wherein the jokes, magic tricks, and stunts adopt an aesthetic of simplicity and childish absurdity as the joke is often the joke itself: its awkward and/or childishly sincere delivery, basic structure, and anti-climatic punchline. Cooper and his partner Ross Moreno so often comment on the performance (usually self-deprecating) within the performance that it can become unclear at which point a seeming mistake is genuine or just part of the performance, part of its self-referentiality.

Another park ranger moving to Brooklyn

Another park ranger moving to Brooklyn

In the first part of the two-parted performance, Cooper makes a joke about his partner’s birth saying “He was born with a full head of hair, and a cigar in his hand that he used to cauterize his own fallopian tube.” Realizing his mistake, Cooper fumbles for the correct term, needing to ask the audience before he remembers what he meant to say is “umbilical cord.” By the time he returns to the punchline (“But I don’t believe it. Cause I don’t think he ever had hair”) the audience has already forgotten or lost interest in the joke’s set up, and the punchline loses all steam. But those who went to both performances would realize that what seemed as a genuine mistake was actually intentional, as Cooper repeats the same joke with the same mistake in the second show. The duo often undermine themselves in this way, and to some extent they do it to play with the audience: a Kaufman-esque effort to baffle, antagonize, or otherwise playfully prank the viewer. The performance feeds on audience reaction, its confusion or discomfort in particular, often going as far as implicating the audience in the performance, during moments where character/fourth wall is broken or the audience is invited (or more likely forced) to participate.

April Childers “Santa for all Seasons (Cheeseburger Santa)”

April Childers “Santa for all Seasons (Cheeseburger Santa)”

April Childers “Pocket”

April Childers “Pocket”

The two performances are part of Harbor Gallery’s “Economy Candy” exhibition. The name is taken from a Lower East Side candy shop that opened during the Great Depression. A candy shop which sells discount candy, whose existence is necessitated by a harsh economic reality, acts both as a distractive relief from those realities as well as a reminder of them, this reminder just thinly and almost mockingly veiled by the shop’s colorful, candied walls. This juxtaposition, the dual role of distraction and reminder, which can be applied to comedy and art as well as to candy shops, seems to be the main concept dealt with by the artists exhibited in the show. These artists, playfully and with a sense of humor, explore the ways that art can distract/ soothe/ even numb and the ways it can make reality felt more immediately. These two effects of art are not mutually exclusive, as all art contains some ratio of both, and each effect can be used to produce the other: reality, struggle, pain can be sublimated into entertainment while alternatively, as seems to be the case with some pieces in this exhibit, a more kitschy/ readily accessible aesthetic can be adopted exactly for the moment when it is broken, the veil lifted, and rather than being distracted, people are made more  keenly aware of their discomfort for the element of surprise.

Jeff De Golier “Spirit Lake”

Jeff De Golier “Spirit Lake”

Jeff De Golier “Motor Boat”

Jeff De Golier “Motor Boat”

Two pieces by April Childers use familiar symbols of American culture to make large, absurdist sculptures. “Pocket” is an oversized, denim pocket filled with a half-deflated beach ball so that it balloons out from the wall. With “A Santa for all Seasons (Cheeseburger Santa)” a cartoonish depiction of Santa Claus resembles an anthropomorphic cheeseburger. The combination of these otherwise harmless and familiar images creates a sculpture that is as unsettling as it is humorous. Jeff DeGolier creates sculptural collages using a variety of objects and materials: coffee cups, champagne glass, sawdust, glitter, mirrors, yarn. His piece “Motor Boat” is constructed from a car stereo and two large speakers which are draped in doilies and yarn, a collage of the loud and the delicate. Maria Britton makes abstract paintings using acrylic paint on bedsheets, which are wrinkled so that the canvas, rather than being simply a backdrop on which the piece is painted, asserts itself as being part of the piece. Alicia Gibson uses acrylic, oil, and spray paint to make colorful, loud, disorienting paintings which seem to reflect a chaotic experience of urban life.

Series by Maria Britton

Series by Maria Britton

Alicia Gibson “Notes of a Dirty old Woman”

Alicia Gibson “Notes of a Dirty old Woman”

Much of the humor in Justin Cooper and Ross Moreno’s performances come from playing with these two juxtaposed forces in art and comedy. At one point Moreno, dressed as a clown, performs a magic trick only to start berating the audience for not “understanding” it. Distraction and diversion are the fundamental techniques of a magician; it is important for the magician to divert the audience’s attention or mislead their expectations so that trick takes them by surprise. In the case of Moreno’s bit, it is the magic trick itself that is the diversion, they expect some sort of surprising conclusion to the trick but they do not expect the performer, dressed as he is in a clown costume, to suddenly turn on them. At one point Cooper plays a lounge singer who in between songs confesses to his lingering, debilitating depression. Similarly, the show’s “encore” features Cooper playing an overenthusiastic pitchman who at one point begins bleeding from his mouth and reveals a wound on his torso before collapsing to the ground. Their humor comes from diverting the audience in some way, with some silly/ childlike aesthetic, soothing lounge music, or excess of enthusiasm, only to allow the things broiling below the surface performance, some antagonism between performer and audience, depression, etc., to reveal itself.

The “Finale:” Justin Cooper attempts to break a cinderblock over Ross Moreno

The “Finale:” Justin Cooper attempts to break a cinderblock over Ross Moreno

All photos on this post are © Conor O’Brien 2014.

Gallery Location: 17-17 Troutman #258, Queens, NY 11385
Hours: Saturday/Sunday from 1pm to 6pm and By Appointment
Exhibition Dates: January 11th through February 16th, 2014!
Gallery Contact: info@harbor1717.com

TONIGHT: First Featured Monthly Artist: Dylan J Clarke

Dylan J. Clarke and Ken South Rock

TONIGHT from 7:00pm to 11:00pm
at The Living Gallery, 1094 Broadway, Bushwick

Each month The Living Gallery will select one artist for
a one night pop-up solo exhibition/gallery transformation!
To submit work email thelivinggallery@gmail.com

The Living Gallery BK presents
Dylan J Clarke: Division of Space

Featuring a performance by
KEN South ROCK
http://www.kensouthrock.com/

Artist Statement: Hello. My name is Dylan J Clarke. For the past 5 years I have been exploring the division of space and how it is effected by color. Please join me and Ken South Rock in my first solo show as I transform The Living Gallery into an experience of geometric psychedelia and music.

Free

Dylan J. Clarke

RSVP on the Facebook Event!