Interrogate Spatial Relationships
What is a group show, without a group?
If one removes the viewer’s ability to perceive the position (spatially, formally, conceptually) of two or more art objects in relation to one another, is it possible to dislocate that object from the conventional way it is viewed, freeing it from the laziness of entrenched assumptions? Or do these histories, contexts and habits follow it from place to place, latching on despite the effort to withhold them?
Simply put, what is it to view a modestly sized single artwork within the context of a traditional gallery space?
What is it to stage a group show without a group or theme; a solo show without evidence of the breadth of an artist’s work, or even a single body of work? And, what about a work that seems to open up this possibility, that has no top or bottom, or left or right, that is comprised of mediated and re-mediated images; would its willful homelessness give it the ability to evade such a problem?
The work in question, Kelley Walker’s Untitled, 2011, falls into the informal subcategory of the artist’s “Brick Paintings”. These works begin the way many of Walker’s pieces do, with a desktop scanner. After scanning the bricks, the resulting image is screen-printed onto canvas, and the “mortar” is filled in with collage elements from a single newspaper or magazine (in this case Domus, October 2011).
The critical writing about Walker’s work is justly fraught with contextualization and repetition. Whether they mention his peers/collaborators (Seth Price, Wade Guyton…), the framing of the work within a Duchamp, Warhol, Lawler trajectory or the discussion of whether or not his co-opted visual vocabulary is to be acknowledged or flattened, these repeating contexts mimic Walker’s practice itself leaving the viewer/reader caught orientating themselves over and over again.
While it is impossible to completely dislocate a work from it’s milieu, nor should anyone ever want to, this exhibition will allow a meditation on a singular example of an artist who’s practice is the encapsulation of it’s own time and place.