Material/Immaterial features artists whose work embodies the indiscernible yet indissoluble link between the grand, abstract illusions and ideals of human culture and their basis in humble material conditions. In an age when subsistence-level survival is dependent on the weightless flow of digital information and global capital, these artists use the material properties of their work to give that contradiction a tangible presence.
Such tensions are prominent in the video art of Michal Rovner whose use of video technology sharpens our focus on earthly matters. Like an archaeologist, Rovner recovers abandoned stones from buildings on the West Bank to use as projection surfaces for her videos. The human figures in these ritualized performances are often barely visible, antlike, suggesting an existential perspective on human claims to earthly territories.
Angela White likewise plays with a cosmic sense of proportion, but with more simple technology in her photograms of natural materials like rainwater and dew; using the most modest means to create cellular forms, almost biological in nature, that refocus our vision toward the minute stuff of which the universe is formed. Kiki Smith's pioneering explorations of parallels between the human body and the physicality of the art object are central to the initiation of this theme in recent art; she has long addressed the body as simultaneously the most concrete and the most complexly symbolic measure of the material world. Arlene Shechet investigates the same analogy in recent ceramics that play with the anthropomorphic. In the forms and material of her sculpture, impulses of respiration, reproduction, and even the desire for transcendence bubble to the surface of objects that nevertheless remain resolutely inert in status.
It is perhaps in the world of still images that our sense of the artwork's connection to its material origins has been most deeply severed. Dinh Q. Lê and Elaine Reichek suggest the high stakes of this issue for our sense of history in works that return attention to the materiality of images. Lê transforms photographs into exquisitely hand-woven tapestries that layer both public and personal memories of war; Reichek, who has long worked in the traditions of knitting and embroidery, now also turns to tapestry to renegotiate iconic art-historical images such as Titian's Bacchus and Ariadne. Brad Spence and Itzhar Patkin likewise explore the material qualities ofpaintings, reducing the painted surface to a minimal extreme that registers its basic makeup at something like the moment before it disappears into the merely graphic.
In their respective work, Shirley Tse and Yuken Teruya take a literal approach to the subject of material. Tse's work juxtaposes man made plastic with naturally occurring quartz- the former being translucent, the latter, opaque. Yuken Teruya's work offers hopeful, yet critical commentary on the problems of material consumption with beautifully delicate trees crafted from iconic luxury brand bags.
James Richard's paintings posses the physicality of sculpture in his thickly deposited acrylic masses, while simultaneously leveraging on a quality of lightness through the interplay of space, line and shadow created by string and the image it casts on the adjacent wall. Jonah Groeneboer creates 3 dimensional forms from the suggestive power of the line in his wall and graphite drawings. Mathematical and illusory, his work seduces with the promise of form through absence - of color, of mass, and seeks to imprint the fourth dimension of time on the perception of the viewer.
Finally Nicole Cohen explores the most earthly of desires; the desire for beauty in her work which calls attention to the trappings of the beauty industry by overlaying on a vintage magazine, a video projection of people working in the cosmetics field as they groom and beautify their clients.
In Material/ Immaterial, the nuances of imagery and form coalesce with the weight and history of material, and vice versa.