Callicoon Fine Arts is pleased to present Festschrift for an Archive and Two Essays on Banks, new projects by Jason Simon that utilize a unique publishing format and an ongoing series of photographs. Opening Saturday, April 21 with a reception from 6 to 8pm, the exhibition continues through June 3, 2012, marking Simon’s first exhibition in New York City since his involvement with Orchard from 2005 to 2008.
The Museum of Modern Art’s Film Still Archive (FSA) had been the largest and most active of its kind, with four million catalogued images, another million images in the process of being cataloged, and approximately one thousand paying scholars, publishers, exhibitors and curator clients visiting annually. The FSA’s Associate Curator managed the Archive for 34 years, and together with her assistant and a bookstore manager, was laid off in the wake of their leadership roles in the MoMA strike of 2000. Rather than relocating the archive to MoMA QNS, or making room for the archive in the large new building then being planned, the FSA was closed.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) heard a complaint against MoMA concerning the handling of the lay-offs and in the process created the public record of the precipitating events. Festschrift for an Archive reproduces the NLRB judgments as a book, with a follow-up interview with FSA curator Mary Corliss. Published in a small edition, most of which will be on view at the gallery, each book presents a different publicity still from a history of cinema imaging labor. As illustrated by Simon’s project, rarely is the connection between labor and cinema quite so material as in the story of the FSA.
Two Essays on Banks is a series of photographs of repurposed bank buildings that will accompany the exhibited books and film stills. The series began at the start of Orchard in view of the changing landscape of the Lower East Side, and is preceded by an article from a 1985 issue of Wedge magazine in which John Strauss writes about trends in bank architecture towards modernist glass and steel as a metaphor of 1980’s global finance. Two Essays on Banks adds a visual post-script to Strauss’ essay: that the previous generation of neo-classical banks had not disappeared. Rather, their marble, limestone and bronze solidity, the built image of permanence and stability, have since become preferred sites of retail, proudly confusing saving with spending.
Jason Simon worked as an assistant curator of film and video at the Wexner Center for the Arts from 1989 to 1991 and currently teaches at the College of Staten Island. He was represented by the Pat Hearn Gallery from 1994-1999 and also exhibited at American Fine Arts. His work has appeared in the Whitney Museum Biennial; Neue Gallerie, Graz; the New Jersey Arts Annual; The New Museum and The Kitchen. In 2013, ten years of the One Minute Film Festival he co-hosts with Moyra Davey will become an exhibition at Mass MoCA.