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Group Exhibition
Eleven Rivington (Rivington Street)
11 Rivington Street, New York, NY 10002
July 9, 2009 - August 14, 2009

What Do You Mean?
by Yaelle Amir


Character Generator
, a group exhibition curated by The Kitchen’s Matthew Lyons, is a straightforward overview of connotations that text-based artworks may evoke. Employing language as raw substance, the included works play off deliberate omissions, unusual juxtapositions, and systematic restructuring. 

Several of the participating artists create within the gap that forms when words are removed.  Shannon Ebner’s untitled black and white photograph (2008) documents a person holding a large blank placard atop a desolate mount.  Dave McKenzie’s Politics is the Art of Compromise (2008) consists of two identical stacks of a deliberately edited letter of acceptance for US naturalization.  In both works, the artists provide the viewers with a political framework – protest and official government documents – while allowing them to personalize its ultimate meaning.

Cody Trepte and Christopher Knowles confine language to new and rigid structures through decontextualization and systemization.  Trepte’s diptych The Twenty Most Frequently Used Words (Written and Spoken) (2008) allows the viewer to focus on individual words that rarely stand alone.  Knowles’ acclaimed typewriter pieces from the 70s and 80s follow mathematical arrangements that position words according to an internal logic.  In Tape Recorder (1974) he formed a column of seven seemingly unrelated words and juxtaposed it with that of mostly gibberish.  Rhyming Words (1976) includes six columns, with each consisting of a series of rhymes determined by the uppermost term.

Many of the pieces share an interactive trait that requires the viewers’ participation for their completion.  This is perhaps epitomized by Emily Roysdon’s eyeglasses
Surprise...You're Pregnant! (2007-2009), in which the viewer is the receiver of the humorous and provocative statements scribbled along the eyeglasses’ frame. Owing to their reliance on one’s relative familiarity with language, the included works inevitably provide an open-ended platform for visitors to explore elements of their identity—thus extending the works’ reach into the world of personal knowledge and histories.

Images: Shannon Ebner, Untitled (2008), Courtesy of the Artist and Wallspace, New York; Dave McKenzie, Politics is the Art of Compromise (2008), Courtesy of the Artist; Emily Roysdon, Surprise...You're Pregnant! (2007-09), Courtesy of the Artist.

Posted by Yaelle Amir on 7/24/09 | tags: mixed-media

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