RAIDERS (Redux), Stephanie Syjuco’s second solo exhibition at Catharine Clark Gallery, delves into issues of acquisition, appropriation, and the accumulation of cultural capital through international “booty.” Featured in the exhibition is Raiders: International Booty, Bountiful Harvest (Selections from the A____ A__ M______) a project in which the artist has amassed a re-assembled collection of antique vessels by downloading publicly available images from the online database of a prominent Asian art museum in San Francisco, and printed them at the actual sizes listed on the site. Adhered to laser-cut wooden backings and gathered in groups, the prop-like objects appear at first glance to be a collection of valued cultural objects. Upon closer inspection, the vessels, now degraded and flattened, have been rendered ineffective, removed from their original use, and then again from their institutional context. By using open online sources, Syjuco investigates how we participate in the construction of culture and how the accessibility of the internet can facilitate its redistribution. On a more personal level, Syjuco has chosen Asian vessels as a way of exploring her own heritage and how it may or may not be found in these representations. “For me there is a murkiness of where my identifications lie, since I am supposed to have a connection to the original objects' histories.” Already rife with cultural and historic meaning, the vessels, jars, bowls, and vases—curvaceous items meant to contain things—also represent femininity and maternity, signifying gender roles, as well as ethnic ones.
Also included in the exhibition is a selection of works from Pattern Migration—a series that juxtaposes the pattern and textiles of nineteenth-century hand-woven coverlets with the mass-produced plastic shopping bags often found in markets around the world like those in Chinatown. A few works will be exhibited from notMOMA, a series in which Syjuco and several students “re-fabricated” artworks from the permanent collection of New York MOMA. The works in RAIDERS (Redux) delve into issues of acquisition, appropriation, and the accumulation of cultural capital. The title of the exhibition—a play both on the idea of piracy and a nod to the antiques-rescuing archeologist Indiana Jones—raises a question: who is the raider: the artist or the institution?
A hybrid of digital and analogue bootlegging, Syjuco’s “thievery” has played an important role in her process. In October 2009 she presented a parasitic art-counterfeiting event, COPYSTAND: An Autonomous Manufacturing Zone, for Frieze Projects, London, as well as contributed proxy sculptures for PS1/MoMA’s joint exhibition “1969.” For her project Everything Must Go (Grey Market), she created a double-layer of stolen goods by re-creating electronics using images of potentially stolen items from online vendor sites such as EBay and craigslist. Other recent works have used the tactics of bootlegging, re-appropriation, and fictional fabrications to address issues of cultural biography, labor, and economic globalization. Working primarily in sculpture and installation, her projects leverage open-source systems, shareware logic, and flows of capital, creating frictions between high ideals and everyday materials. For the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial, Syjuco has been commissioned to create a work that operates at the nexus of art and technology (www.zero1.org).
Born in the Philippines, Stephanie Syjuco received her MFA from Stanford University and BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, and included in exhibitions at PS1, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The New Museum, SFMOMA, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, The Contemporary Museum (Honolulu), The San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, and the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, among others. She has led workshops for her ongoing global collaborative Counterfeit Crochet Project at art spaces in Istanbul, Beijing, and Manila, and in December 2008 her work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Her works have been praised in Artforum, Art in America, Flash Art, Art Practical, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Wallstreet Journal, Craft Magazine, and on KQED’s Spark, among many others. For the six months in 2010–11, Syjuco’s project Shadowshop was embedded within the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s fifth floor galleries—a project that included the works of 200 Bay Area artists and garnered significant critical acclaim, raising $100,000 for the artists who participated in the work. She has also recently been commissioned to create installations for FOR-SITE’s project International Orange: Artists respond to the Golden Gate Bridge at 75 (May 25 – October 28, 2012) and for the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial (September 12–16, 2012).