Life, death, and leisure.
Monte Cristo is a sandwich, an adventure novel and most evidently a small island off the coast of Tuscany.
As an island, Monte Cristo has a particularly disastrous history: ancient home to hermits and monks later enslaved by pirates, overrun by black rats, bombed with poison pellets and now only a spare population of two inhabit this desolate rock. Attempted colonizers desperately imposed blind optimism upon this steep and slippery rock, their mistakes had nowhere to go but into the sea. Artists Math Bass and Leidy Churchman have used Monte Cristo as a kind of mantra, an unattainable island populated by only two souls, here working together.
Monte Cristo is also most simply a frame… the way an island is a frame.
Both working with the mediums of painting and video, Bass and Churchman’s practices uses the compositional space of the frame to abstract reality; reducing content like a plinth, a human limb, a mound of pubic hair or dirty sock to pure shape and color. By employing the ever-effective cinematic move of reveal, Monte Cristo pushes past the edges of one frame into the next—the exhibition itself—to re-forge coherent symbols.
Bass’ new sculptures are concerned with formlessness, activating found objects and constructed materials in a series of works that play with ideas of set and scene. Connected to her performance practice and recent work Brutal Set (2012), She approaches sculpture as a site of potential action.
Churchman’s recent video work and painting revel in the slow reveal. Steadily shifting landscapes, both actual and constructed are inter-cut to produce video that points to his painting practice. For Churchman, recognizable symbols rendered with brush in hand can transcend a flattened sign, the slow reveal of meaning as emotion leaks off canvas over prolonged observation.
Brought together for the month of May by Human Resources L.A., Bass (Los Angeles) and Churchman (New York City) have been commissioned to produce new works in tandem, this confluence a celebration of their long friendship.