Temperatures in a Lab of Superior Specialness
Mary Boone Gallery, in collaboration with Zach Feuer Gallery, is pleased to present two
exhibitions by PHOEBE WASHBURN: Temperatures in a Lab of Superior Specialness, an
exhibition of new sculpture at Mary Boone Gallery, 745 Fifth Avenue, and Nunderwater
Nort Lab, a site-specific installation at Zach Feuer Gallery in Chelsea. Phoebe Washburn’s
work explores generative systems based on absurd patterns of production often created
by inefficiency. The rules that govern Washburn’s systems of production inform her
sculpture and installation formally as well as conceptually.
In Nunderwater Nort Lab, Washburn has devised a site and context specific installation
that juxtaposes two seemingly unrelated activities - art and lunch. Lunch is a daily
activity, often overlooked, that occasionally infiltrates the gallery art viewing experience.
In this installation, visitors will smell lunch as well as observe it being made and eaten
inside the installation. The main structure, composed of blocks of scrap wood that have
been repurposed and then ordered from previous installations, contains observational
‘worm holes’ that extend into the structure from which visitors can glean, in addition to
hear and smell, bits of the activities occurring inside. In Washburn’s work, everyday
objects and activities are reinterpreted to create appreciation for process and experience.
The overall composition of the paintings is completed by panels reprising the iconic women
of Salle’s 1980s paintings. Each woman lifts her body from the ground in an act of physical
exertion -- not unlike that required to push a boat from shore. In other works, straining
arms appear detached and superimposed directly upon the water views, a bodily presence
that resonates among Salle’s enigmatic references of hats, chairs, boats.
Washburn’s titles often play on the sounds and meanings of words. In previous works, the
subject was designated ORT, a gibberish word that played on the word art. In these
works, viewers were encouraged to participate in the system; the system was open to
outside influences. The key word in the new work is Nort. Although volunteers are integral
to the system, the structure is neither open to the viewer nor involves the viewer’s
participation in the work. It is, instead, closed to external influences.
At Mary Boone Gallery, Washburn will present new sculpture. These works, like the
installation, are composed of material that has been repurposed from previous
installations including tables, wood, garden hose, painted rocks and dyed shells. These
works address not only formal concerns but, as in the installations, create a delicate and
precarious balancing act between process, production and product.