Viewing art in August is a challenge for our sun-dazed brains. We seek the ice cream version of art: guilty pleasures that are light, fun… a little risqué? But here is an exhibition that reminds us that some substance can be good, even in this heat. Young Curators New Ideas III at PPOW is a commendable survey presenting a snapshot of current curatorial methodologies.
The exhibition, the 3rd in an annual series, is divided into six micro-exhibitions organized by each curator or curatorial team who had been selected based on a submitted proposal. While the presentation doesn’t take as many risks as one might expect from the “new ideas” decree, it is a thoughtful survey that allows the art to stand on its own. The spotlight is, arguably, on curators who work in careful dialog with artists rather than overpower or remove them from their natural context, and this coalesces in an exhibition that is about the strength of the artwork that it presents. Regardless of the curatorial approach, there is an overall respect for the artists, for their processes, for the type of space necessary to allow the work to live.
Bryan Graf’s installation, Broken Lattice (curated by Kate Greenberg and Hilary Schaffner), is a puzzle of found, created, and re-created photos that mimic the characteristics of memory and the transience of time. It is reminiscent of how we combine, reverse and overlap images from both lived and artificial experience, isolating salient moments and motifs that we then systemize, filter, and fragment.
Curator James Shaeffer brings together artists exploiting notions of originality and reproduction resulting from the use of internet as an expansive platform for the presentation and transfer of art images. Victor Vaughn works through these questions on several metaphorical and literal layers through a print series derived from scanned-in drawings pondering his family’s (very direct) role in outsourcing horse breeding. All works presented are available for free download of the internet. Berlin collective AIDS-3D presents Berserker, a computer generated image of an alien that demands to be reproduced, and is accompanied always by the ready to print file.
Curator Stamatina Gregory’s Quantum Limbo, joins together artists Julia Oldham and Brian Clifton. Both allude to scientific investigation in their practice, and here specifically, to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, a theory of quantum mechanics. Oldham, in collaboration with physicist Eric Corwin, presents three videos from a series called “Fundamental Constants.” Each shows the artist performing obscure rituals with antiquated devices for measurement along with added fictionalized elements. Her activities are mystical in their deliberateness, and the tone and rhythm of each conveys a supernatural strangeness. Clifton’s work, consists of artist-intervened “specimen,” staged on consecutive pedestals that sit before a series of paintings. Using field theory, the artist intertwines logical scientific inquiry with non-logical humanness, exploring how humans attach meaning to objects.
Behind the curtain “Immaterial Architecture” (curated by Gabriella Hiatt) consists of a transformative installation by Jan Tichy. Interested in the fluid perception of fixed structures in a changing environment, the artist presents a room of brightly lit white walls dotted with white paper cylindrical well-like structures. These change and shift as projected dark particles fill in the whiteness-- small shadows resembling organisms under a microscope as they multiply. The shapes grow and move across the cylinders until the walls are completely dark, save a few remaining stars of white left over, leaving us with a combined experience of the ethereal and artificial.
(Images: Bryan Graf, Lake Accumulation, 2009, c-print, 13 x 19 inches, edition of 7; Julia Oldham with Eric Corwin, Determining the Speed of Light, 2010, digital video, 3:00 minutes; Brian Clifton, In the court of Cocalus, the logician/mathematician/philosopher looked up in perfect silence at the stars, knowing the light on the other side of the rapidly expanding universe is too slow to reach our eyes. (where a density in one place in the field harmonizes with others and begins to cause distortions, waves, and tremors in other, distant places), 2010, snail shell, thread, radio, graphite, 12 x 12 x 1.5 inches. Courtesy of the artist and PPOW Gallery, NY)