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New York

James Cohan Gallery

Exhibition Detail
Not a Particle or a Place but an Action
533 West 26th St
New York, NY 10001


March 30th, 2012 - May 5th, 2012
Opening: 
March 29th, 2012 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
 
still from A Ray Array, Sarah RaraSarah Rara, still from A Ray Array,
2011, HD video transferred to Blu-ray, 58 minutes 7 seconds
© Courtesy of the artist & James Cohan Gallery
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James Cohan Gallery is pleased to present Not a Particle or a Place but an Action, an
exhibition of works by California-based artists Mauricio Ancalmo and Sarah Rara,
opening on March 30th and running through May 5th, 2012. This will be the first New
York gallery exhibition for both artists.
In the front gallery, Sarah Rara’s hour-long film A Ray Array (2011) comprises 15 visual
and aural essays on the idea of interference, that range, in the artist’s words, “from the
failure of a message to be discernable, to sudden interruptions, visual disturbances, the
interaction of two sound signals, instability, and optical effects.” Fingers twinkle in the
sun; a felt hat spins; a stained glass moon slowly turns. A Ray Array is a wonky,
wordless and amused bit of science that harkens back to Ed Ruscha’s early meditations
on the banal and John Baldessari’s Surrealist, saturated Pop while also defining a
contemporary left-coast aesthetic—one that is disarmingly sincere, visually beautiful and
unexpectedly spiritual.
Filling the main gallery is Mauricio Ancalmo’s monumental Dualing Pianos: Agapé
Agape in D Minor (2011), a work first presented at the 6th edition of “Bay Area Now,” the
bellwether triennial survey at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (2011). The piece
consists of two player pianos facing each other, with a word processor separating and
mediating the two instruments and a large loop of paper moving slowly between the
machines, fueling a three-way conversation. Literary and theoretical references are
central to Ancalmo’s work: Agapé Agape takes its title from pioneering American
Postmodernist author William Gaddis’ final novel, in which the player piano represents
the threat that technology poses to artistic invention. Gilles Deleuze’s theory of
communication as a rhizome—not growing root to tip but with multiple and mutating
entry and exit points—was also critical to the work’s conception; the word processor
superimposes a text about Deleuze over the original player piano scroll, affecting the
sound of the work as it passes through.
In the third gallery, a selection of works on paper by each artist are brought into direct
dialogue. Ancalmo’s photograms from the Dualing Pianos series were created using the
very scroll that passes through the installation on view. Other inkjet prints—including
those from the “©1871” and “Monolithoscope” series—are derived from earlier
installations that also address issues of physicality, evidence and obsolescence of
technology left over from the mechanical age. Rara’s inkjet and silver prints can be
considered stills, offcuts, remixes and responses from the material in A Ray Array. By
freezing the cinematic image, the artist’s idea of interference adopts a new tempo and
occupies a new space.
Sarah Rara completed her MFA at the University of Southern California in 2011, and is
renowned worldwide as a member of the experimental music duo Lucky Dragons. She
has created performances and video installations at venues including the UCLA
Hammer Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; the Whitney
Museum of American Art, New York, NY; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden,
Washington, DC; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN; the Institute for
Contemporary Art, London, U K; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, among
others. Rara lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
Mauricio Ancalmo received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, and his work
has been the subject of several solo exhibitions at Eli Ridgeway Gallery, San Francisco,
and important exhibitions in the city such as Bay Area Now 6 at the Yerba Buena Center
for the Arts and Reconsidered Materials at the Exploratorium. He has been the recipient
of the Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation, the San Francisco Museum
of Modern Art’s SECA Award, the James Irvine Foundation Award and a residency at
the San Francisco Exploratorium. Ancalmo lives and works in San Francisco, CA.


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