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New York
Group Exhibition
Black & White Gallery
56 Bogart Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206
January 8, 2009 - February 14, 2009

Clothes Encounter
by Alison Levy

Clothing is the outlet at this group show at Black & White Gallery. Immaterial can mean 'irrelevant' or 'of no consequence,' and the artists in this exhibition suggest the very opposite, denying the material nature of the clothing they appropriate as medium while partially leaving further interpretation to the viewer. Under such spotlight, the material clothing loses their original functionality,  letting memory and presence take over.

Kaoru Hirano, from Japan, unravels articles of clothing which have personal meaning to her, hanging her dismantled works from the ceiling, with threads cascading onto the floor. Hirano is amazingly dexterous and keeps all her threads intact. There is a mystery and subtleness to her work, creating a meditative portrait that suggests 'walking in another person's shoes.' Derick Melander is also working with used clothing, which his friends give to him in mass quantities for his projects. For the gallery he has tightly stacked clothing to form an undulating wall, reacting to Black & White's architecture. The clothing literally weighs a ton. Melander has color-gradated the clothing and allowed some loose ends to spill out, like overall buckles and strings.  As he states himself, they are the "boundaries and conflicted space between the individual and the outside world."

Other artists use clothing as a symbol, such as Adam Niklewitz, whose fairytale works look at garments through the lens of a foreigner in America. SOMETIME LAST JANUARY I HAD AWOKEN IN THE MORNING WITH MY HAND UP is a playful work with a man's shirt laying flat on the ground with a lighthouse coming out of its raised sleeve. Its working light bulb seems to be about awakenings and enlightenment,  as well as dream states and certain manly "surprises."  Many other works in the show, including Shimon Okshteyn's sculpture of a stack of blower hats and Jason Clay Lewis's furry skull, offer multi-layered, surreal adventures. Altogether, the artists of imMATERIAL  unmask clothing, our daily armor and ubiquitous decoration, showing its transcendental nature and human imprint.

Images: imMATERIAL installation view; Adam Niklewitz, SOMETIME LAST JANUARY I HAD AWOKEN IN THE MORNING WITH MY HAND UP (2008). Courtesy Black & White Gallery.

Posted by Alison Levy on 1/11/09

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