Room East is pleased to present the exhibition “Ruins in Reverse,” a group exhibition that inaugurates its location at 41 Orchard Street in New York City. Inspired by the multifarious output of Robert Smithson and Gordon Matta-Clark, this first exhibition at the gallery celebrates the aesthetic value of the destructive nature of entropy.
In “The Monuments of Passaic” (Artforum, December 1967) Robert Smithson used the phrase “ruins in reverse” to refer to a “zero panorama”, a site of “new construction that would eventually be built.” What Smithson witnessed on his archaeological survey of Passaic, New Jersey was a vast array of new construction materials fated to frailty. He was commenting on the vast expansion of suburbia, and the creation of sites that had no prior history. “This is the opposite of the “romantic ruin” because the buildings don’t fall into ruin after they are built but rather rise into ruin before they are built.”
The works in this exhibition expand upon the concept that Smithson outlined and exemplify–where Matta-Clark left off a current generation of New York-based artists pick up–the paradoxical state of contemporary art as a ruin made in reverse. Often the painting and sculpture on view lay bare the materials of their making in various states of completion from raw to densely layered. In some instances their fabric is exacted from detritus, in others traditional materials are exhausted or honed into vignettes of minimal dissonance. The exhibition is concerned with sculptural and painterly destruction, and the aesthetic ruination of media.