Eleven Rivington (Rivington Street)
11 Rivington Street, New York, NY 10002
July 9, 2009 - August 14, 2009
What Do You Mean?
by Yaelle Amir
Posted by Yaelle Amir
| tags: mixed-media
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
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.