13 october – 09 november 2014
curated by john ros
When we avail ourselves to experience, we explore our surroundings in our own unique ways. Certain trained modes of observation and response may kick in, and shape our interpretations according to a particular set of parameters followed unconsciously. But what are we missing? Might a small shift in perspective completely change an experience? Are we becoming so familiar with what we think we see that we deprive ourselves of new experiences? When we shift the perspective from which we view something, we create variations of the same moments that, however slight, entice us to richer interpretations. Time itself may pause to accommodate the expanding spectrum of what surrounds us. We are magicians and sages who can open up space and time to reveal a multitude of new experiences. We first have to open ourselves to that possibility.
Space and time constantly unravel in front of us. Not only does time exist in the background, blocking moments and dictating schedules, it functions in the very front of each moment, and has the ability to shift and collapse based on our perception of it. Space also plays a significant role in each of the aforementioned elements and byproducts of time. Memories are solidified and futures planned based on our positions within our own landscapes.
Collectively and individually, the outcomes of any experience translate into drastically different vantage points. Joseph Albers says in, Interaction of Color, “Relativity is caused by a variance of measure, by lack or avoidance of standard rules, or by changing viewpoints. As a result, 1 phenomenon has varying views, readings and different meanings.” So, as the red of a stop sign stands in front of ten people, each of those ten people will experience a unique red. As we experience a multitude of stimuli at any one moment, every element of those stimuli may be perceived in a variety of ways. The idea is first to accept this phenomenon, then begin to allow for shifts in our own perspectives in order to more fully see, or experience, each moment.
Using the studio as the starting point for this conversation, we look to Brian Higbee and Kirsten Nash from New York and Jaimini Patel and Sikander Pervez from London.
Sikander Pervez presents the simple, but manages to establish a dynamic, nuanced character within a not-so-simple shift in perspective. In Untitled (Chair & Orange Plastic) I-X, 2013, he offers a chair and the remnant trimmings from a rice package. Together, the chair and trimmings create a dynamic sculpture that intimates commentary on labor and food production, politics and the domestic homestead. Though Pervez may accept this interpretation, he is more interested in how complex material shifts in space and time. According to his own need to work through materials, “[t]he transformation possesses an open-ended possibility of what the artwork is able to become…” And though Pervez is ultimately after an aesthetic that works within the constraints of mass and space, he has allowed the element of time to creep in subtly. Through his investigation of placement, activity, inactivity and pressure, Pervez has opened up the interaction of a 3-dimensional object into a 4-dimensional time-piece. The sculpture can no longer stand alone. As a matter of fact, the sculpture almost becomes obsolete, as the memory of the sculpture’s past placement becomes the actual expression of this work. This movement in space through time, albeit in solitude, becomes the magnificent journey for the viewer to experience, from object to visual life-line. We imagine the steps taken to achieve each new placement. Rather than force-feed this process, Pervez offers a glimpse, during which we are invited to fill in the pieces. It is the active role of the participant we seem to have forgotten — not participation in the “actor” sense, but rather in the poetic sense. Pervez respects the viewer too much to provide us with an answer key.
This same operation, from object to experience, seems to take hold in Kirsten Nash’s paintings and drawings. Nash is fully engulfed in the subtle surfaces of paper and linen — so much so one can imagine these spaces as fully-realized physical places in front of her, as if she were a plein air painter working from representation. It just so happens the places are in front of her. Nash has such an acute sense of material and strong ability to manipulate image into memory and form, that she creates these massive, yet soft experiences, each a slight variation on the previous. Beyond the physical, Nash warps space as her precious small drawings become fully realized stage sets in scale. She humbly states, “These works represent the manifestation of…thought translated through material and process. Drawing, reflecting, negating, and refining, I am aiming for a raw simplicity and directness that is both in the moment and informed through memory.”
Nash’s directness and aim to achieve simplicity has given her the ability to extend beyond the physicality of the material and onto a broader expansion of durational references. From Bounce, 2013 to Morning Light, 2013 a shift of tension is activated. Then we arrive at Giant, 2013 and the journey suspends in mid-air, not from an oversight or miscalculation on Nash’s part, but as an opportunity she offers the viewer. We are suspended in the space between the greenish-ochre and purple bands. If we allow ourselves long enough, we can climb through its misty matrix and come out through the other side. Nash offers us multiple perspectives in which to accept these possibilities. It is up to us to do the work and get through them.
Jaimini Patel’s work quintessentially addresses space and time as her durational installations unfold throughout given parameters in specific spaces. She too relates to ideas of history and memory running in tandem with time. She states, “When the function of a material or where it belongs is altered, the dissonance between its past and present is amplified. I am interested in the sense of anticipation created by the potential for the work to change, collapse, or become unstable and the interplay between chance and intention.” It is within this chance of change, past and present, that Patel’s pieces hinge on the viewers own perspective. Taken further, her newest ongoing research project, Slivers of Time, 2014 employs a ritual of carefully cutting and layering sheets of carbon paper, which injects history and time as parameters of daily studio practice. This two-dimensional practice, rooted in repetition solidifies theories and intentions from Patel’s installation work and opens up new possibilities into layers of perception, quite literally, one sheet of carbon paper at a time. Devotion to a ritual can instill many new perspectives based on ones own acceptance of time. Patel remarks, “Time can be measured in centimeters, packets of carbon paper or the length of a piece of music. Although the activity allows the measurement of time, it also establishes a rhythm in which the experience of it becomes distorted. Sometimes an hour can pass in what seems like an instant, or time can appear to crawl. I enjoy the contraction and expansion, which allows me to become immersed and then to re-emerge.” Distortion is where the excitement awaits and where perspective can begin to shift, for the artist and for the viewer. Like Pervez, Patel does not need to show each step of the journey. By keeping memory and possibility within arms reach, she keeps some of the magic alive for the viewer and for herself.
Brian Higbee takes shifting perspectives to a whole new level in his practice. He has developed a few different ways of approaching his work by actually dividing it into very specific categories. As Higbee explains, “Minimalism Elite re-imagines the past, and Future Living Projects imagines the future.” In addition to his aesthetic work, Higbee has been creating art of a critical nature under the name “Associated Artists for Propaganda Research” since 2000, and hosts an exploration of semi-fictious artwork at “The Lost Estate of Ed ‘Johnson’ Shepard”. Higbee has “developed these projects to act as a network of interconnected ideas that address the complexities of multiplicity as a basis for the re-conceptualization of contemporary aesthetics.” By doing so, Higbee has created a diverse language in which to open up contrasting conversations, while tweaking them at the very core of their being.
With this in mind, it seems Higbee regularly undergoes his own self-imposed perceptual shifts, literally as well as conceptually. Take for instance, A Non-Representative Model for Incomplete Ideas (Intricate Structure #1), 2013 made under Minimalism Elite and Journey Into the Realm of Reason, 2009 made under Future Living Projects. They seem to feed into one another. The latter may have informed the former, but either way, the very act of creating these works under unique auspices arranges an immediate perceptual shift to the viewer. This action not only changes the time and space of the works, but manages to change the very being of the work by way of provenance, no matter how conceptual.
Likewise, Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled SSS #4 2014, (Minimalism Elite) and Silence is golden, 2011 (Associated Artists for Propaganda Research), demonstrate the essence of interplay in these time-space shifts. Perhaps the most exciting part of Higbee’s modus operandi is the infinite sense of possibility within it. A single artist can allow himself varied viewpoints and exhaustive dialogues within one topic. One could argue artists do this regularly in the studio, but by categorizing his own viewpoints, Higbee elevates the discourse with a new sense of wholeness as he offers it to his audience.
All four of these artists work tirelessly in the studio. With very different practices, they meet somewhere, in a Venn diagram of possibilities, if only for a moment. They pass on ideas, mix theories and offer new expertise. They converse. At this time we are all invited into this conversation.
Viewers and artists alike must challenge what we experience. As participants in this overly-stimulated visual culture we have to remember the difference between what we are looking at and what we think we are looking at. When we truly look, we begin to accept new ideas and notions from the visual language placed in front of us. When we look we open ourselves to endless possibilities and a better understanding of the nuance of our surroundings. We obliterate all possibility when we experience something as something we have experienced before, or when we think we know what it is we are seeing. We must shift perspective and look at the familiar with fresh vigor, while allowing a sense of excitement to enter new experiences. All time and space, even ordinary, offers potential. A new sense of wonderment will compel our thoughts, actions and engagement into new perspectives and a more fully realized experience.
Exhibition gallery: click on an image below to view the exhibition.
other exhibits in this series:
10 November – 07 December 2014: conversations: /HOME/
08 December 2014 – 11 January 2015: conversations: exterior—interior
This 3-part series of exhibitions is an investigation into specific ideas within artists’ practices and how those paths unfold into the broader conversation for the audience. Each exhibit will bring artists from the US and the UK together to begin discussions into slightly obscure ideas that resonate throughout broader, less-obvious themes. SPACE&time: a look into how space and time may shift and how our own perspectives of each affect our experiences; /HOME/, a discussion on what it means to be “home” and how artists work to create that experience; and exterior—interior, how the morphing of space can allow it to become both interior and exterior at the same time.
The studio is the starting point for all of these conversations. When one experiences an artist’s raw, unedited practice, you can begin to better understand the depth of research involved. Not all work is a success, nor should it be. Of those “horrible works”, our instinct is to put it away, to bury it, destroy it. At Brooklyn College, Archie Rand always said to keep that piece hung in the studio and to stare at it, to communicate with it, to allow for it to loom over our practice a while. He reassured us that it was a pure and honest expression from our gut and eventually it would reveal its purpose. In a similar vain, Kirsten Nash recently curated the exhibit, Pleasure & Pain, for galleryELL.
From studio to exhibition, this series aims to create a venue for honest creativity and a discussion of possibilities.