M+B is pleased to announce Soft Target, a group exhibition organized by Phil Chang and Matthew Porter. The exhibition will be on view from June 26 through August 30, 2014 with an opening reception on Thursday, June 26 from 6 to 8 pm. Presentations by Dan Torop, Hannah Whitaker and Owen Kydd, who will introduce a film by Justin Schmitz, will begin promptly at 6:30 pm during the opening reception.
Participating artists include Richard Caldicott, Julie Cockburn, Sara Cwynar, Shannon Ebner, Andrea Galvani, David Goldes, Peter Holzhauer, Whitney Hubbs, Tim Hyde, Ron Jude, Soo Kim, Anna Kleberg, Barney Kulok, Justine Kurland, Luisa Lambri, Miranda Lichtenstein, Matt Lipps, Sharon Lockhart, Jason Losh, Marlo Pascual, A. Pilgrim Peterman, Adam Putnam, Michael Queenland, Amanda Ross-Ho, Asha Schechter, Collier Schorr, Dan Torop, Michael Vahrenwald, Sara VanDerBeek and Hannah Whitaker.
Words do not look like the things they designate.
– Maurice Merleau-Ponty
I would wager that any reader of this text, regardless of proximity or distance to the art world, is willing to engage with the inherently fraught nature of an artwork. This engagement can occur at the level of production, circulation, and reception. This quality can situate the stakes of an artwork and can serve as the precise antitheses of Merleau-Ponty’s statement above – that an artwork can in fact resemble the thing that it refers to, that the artwork may in fact be the very thing it refers to. By employing direct and oblique strategies, the photographic and sculptural works in this group exhibition demonstrate this condition.
As an artist who occasionally organizes group exhibitions, I have had the privilege of collaborating with Matthew Porter on Soft Target. We have jointly delved into how the art object can exist simultaneously as a fraught and productive meeting point. Precisely because art can function as multiple things at once – as an object for discourse, an artifact, and a commodity – it is both simultaneously elusive and specific: a soft target. This group exhibition focuses on the slippery condition of artworks, one that can surprisingly demand targeting despite its multiple functions.
– Phil Chang, June 2014
The horizon is a crease, a fold where the sky meets the land. Or a cut, an event that serves to divide top from bottom, foreground from background. Things depicted within the frame stack up like layers, enjoying their vivid existence in the interregnum between abstraction and representation. Focus is redoubtable. When present, it is difficult to ignore, but it is also hierarchical—diminish its presence, and composition becomes static, or driven by line and form. In the midst of this, artists make gratuitous land grabs, fixing a portrait, a still life or a landscape into the image. The sitter becomes the Soft Target.
With the exception of a few sculptural works, we have presented the visitor with a selection of flat surfaces. In each case, we are looking at the visual evidence of the artist’s economy of choice. None of the original context for the works exists here, no supporting material and no artist’s statement. In our drone-inflected lexicon, is diminished collateral the same thing as enhanced precision? Photography is cropping. And cutting, folding, layering, positioning and, of course, choosing. Let’s not say targeting, because that sounds too martial. In this case, when multiple subjects are depicted no one gets hurt.
– Matthew Porter, June 2014