So where do we begin with this strange coupling in this two-artist show? Evidently, the only link that can be established between James Hoff’s Pig Latin and Angela Mewes’ Shellf is that both bodies of work are presented in serial form. Nine diptychs plus a single painting (Hoff), eight wall sculptures, all of which but one hold smaller plaster objects (Mewes).
In half of James Hoff’s silk-screens on canvas illustrated representations of African American men, women and children engage in varying degrees of violence with anthropomorphized pigs wearing five pointed star PIG badges. The remaining works, white text against a black monochrome background come from the corresponding captions that Hoff decided to split from the image: The Pig Is Afraid of Black Children Because They Are Brave Warriors, Power Comes Through The Barrel Of A Gun, The Pig Is Running Away from Black People, “Run Pig, Run”. The source material for this project is a Black Panther Coloring Book from -presumably- the mid to late sixties. James Hoff writes:
" I came across the material through closed online file sharing networks about two years ago while doing research on the Free Huey movement and the murder of Fred Hampton. I was lucky to get a first generation photocopy and have searched since for an original with no luck. What intrigued me beyond the fact that it was distributed by the FBI to counteract the Black Panthers' Breakfast For Children Program (this is surprising only in that it shows that the FBI is somewhat creative in its approach at undermining countercultural activities) was the anonymity of the author who first approached the Black Panther Party with the book (who abhored it) and later took it to the FBI. His signature is prevalent in most of the drawings but his identity remains unknown, another layer of identity to be uncovered, covered up, dismissed, and disseminated ".
In sharp distinction, in this show where a thematic restriction has been lifted, the object of study in Angela Mewes’ Shellf, is form, transformation and the many appearances of the “same”. The eight wall sculptures, Shellf no.1, Shellf no. 2, and so on, are variations of the same oval form, a spray painted aluminum sheet. As she “folds” each egg-like sheet she produces a succession of shelves that soon after the first folding (simply in half, where the original shape is still identifiable) push, with each new version, away from the idea of origin. On these shelves she places plaster casts of the inside of small plastic bags (ziplocks). These non-figurative objects represent nothing in particular but they emerge from a new space (the accidental form of an interior) with multiple possibilities-and narratives. Mewes veils a clear reading of the pieces. By adding grey pigment to the plaster, the casts –which are given in this case distinct titles, Volume 1, Hands, Anzug, Lead, etc- can only provisionally assume a specific material identity.
James Hoff is an artist living in New York City. He works in a variety of mediums including painting, sound and performance. He has recently performed at Artists Space, (NYC), 0047 (Oslo), La Sorbonne (Paris), and the Centre Pompidou (Paris). He has participated in group shows at Dispatch Bureau (NYC), Asian Song Society (NYC), KS Art (NYC) and Revolver (Norway). He is the recent author of Topten (No Input Books), Memoires (No Input Books), and co-author of Endless Nameless (No Input Books). Upcoming publications include Inventory Arousal (Bedford Press).
He is also the co-founder and editor of Primary Information, a non-profit publisher devoted to printing artists' books and multiples by artists. With Primary Information he has edited publications and multiples by John Cage, the Art Workers' Coalition, DISBAND, Dan Graham, Robert Filliou, Al Hansen, Dick Higgins, Allan Kaprow, Lee Lozano, Dieter Roth, Aram Saroyan, Seth Siegelaub, and Emmett Williams, among many others.
Angela Mewes (*1980) is an artist and poet who lives and works in Berlin. She was educated at the Universität der Künste, Berlin. Her practice involves sculpture, photography and painting. Recent exhibitions include No Solid Crystal, Remap KM, (Athens) and When the picture left me it was already too late, Nice and Fit, (Berlin).
James Hoff’s Memoires and a new poster by Angela Mewes will be available for sale at the gallery.