Solo Exhibition

Event  |  Reviews  |  Comments
American Flag (Lead), 2012 Lead Sheet And Stainless Steel Cable, Hand Sewn © Courtesy of the artist & DODGE Gallery
Solo Exhibition

15 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002
September 8th, 2012 - October 28th, 2012
Opening: September 8th, 2012 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Wednesday-Saturday 11-6, Sunday 12-6, Tuesday by appointment

DODGEgallery is pleased to present Dave Cole’s second solo exhibition at the gallery.

In his most recent body of work, Cole navigates memory, nostalgia, history, national identity and the interlocking resonance of each. Cole’s interests carry a scholarly knowledge of this nation’s past, with the consciousness of what it means to be an American today. Looking at what came before us, patterns that lie therein, and what may come, Cole’s work is a poetic inquisition of the path of empire. It is also a silver-lined bow to the impartial course of time. The work gives ear to the inevitable and often tragic march of history, played to a tune of desire, longing, and hope.

The centerpiece of the show is Cole's Music Box. In partnership with Caterpiller Tractor Company, CAT Ohio, and the Cleveland Institute of Art—who commissioned the piece earlier this year—Cole has fabricated a functional music box driven by a full-size Vibratory Roller-Compactor (a steamroller). The 22,000 lb machine was donated by CAT for Cole to dismantle and re-fabricate. Cole, leading a team of fabricators, machinists, musicians and mechanics recreated over 80% of the machine—seemingly identical to the original, but mobile, musical, and at a tiny fraction of the original weight. The front of the machine supports the wooden acoustical cabinet, which Cole built from Cherry wood harvested from his family farm in New Hampshire. The steady, slow roll of the drum plays The Star Spangled Banner, with the voice of a mechanical Juggernaut. The deep, loud, gut-wrenching clatter is akin to memory—recalling something familiar but distant. The viewer’s rote memory of the song plays in conjunction with Cole’s haunting version. Taking an intimate, child-like form of something that is turned by hand, Cole presents a music box that is gargantuan in comparison, akin to what only dreams can manifest. Any anthem is marshal music, and Cole presents his with both the tenderness of faded memories, and the brutality of a crushing machine.

As quiet and contemplative as the Music Box is loud and aggressive, Cole's American Flag (Lead) speaks the vocabulary of textiles with the voice of heavy industry. The piece was fabricated with Cole's typical obsessive craftsmanship—sheets of lead treated as though they were bolts of cloth: cut and stitched by hand with braided cables of stainless steel wire finer than human hair. This is Cole’s most laborious flag series to date; even after being punched by machine (a modified industrial sewing machine) all of the stripes and every star had to be re-routed with a tiny drill, and then double-stitched by hand—each hour of physically demanding labor yielding less than eight linear inches of stitching. The result is a broad, undulating object that transcends its materiality; the lead appears more like a worn leather or heavy fabric than metal. The malleable and wrinkled form takes on the appearance of something soft that has been frozen in time, and the lack of color makes the image that it creates seem more like an afterimage of a flag than the thing itself. The familiar red, white and blue flickers over the presence of the toned grays, oscillating memory with the present object. Importantly, Cole’s flags are not only representations of the American flag, they are also scaled to government standard proportions and therefore are an actual flag of the United States. Cole is both carefully creating objects that are of our nation, and flags that transcend specificity, eliciting questions of what place the flag held and holds in our consciousness.

Dave Cole was born in 1975 in Lebanon, NH and received his BA in 2000 from Brown University. He has exhibited at national and international museums including: Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA, The Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach, FL, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA, 21c Museum, Louisville, KY, Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA, Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, IN, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, AZ, Vestlanske Kunstindustrimuseum, Bergen, Norway, Nasjonal Museet, Oslo, Norway, Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, Israel, Textielmuseum, Tilburg, Netherlands. In 2012, Cole completed The Music Box, a large-scale commission for the Cleveland Institute of Art. Cole was the recipient of the 2009 deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum's annual Rappaport Prize and his work has been reviewed in Artforum; Art in America; ARTnews; Modern Painters; Art Papers; and The Boston Globe, among others. His work is included in the collection of Danforth Museum, Wellington Management, 21c Museum, RISD Museum, Jaermuseet Vitenfabrikken, The Burger Collection, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.