Reena Spaulings presents Norwegian artist/novelist Matias Faldbakken’s first New York solo exhibition.
Remainder # 3 and Remainder # 4 evoke the anonymous metropolitan environments we pass
through without lingering: subway stations, public bathrooms, etc. Repeating, identical, ceramic tiles do their work by organizing space and through unspoken commands to keep moving, nothing to see here. Remainder # 4 has been spray painted with one black line and then cleaned, leaving a geometrically organized stain in its cracks. Vandalism has its patterns too, always elaborated in relation to those of order. An antagonistic dialogue between defacement and sanitation, the expressionism of the trace and the minimalist grid, leaves us in an unresolved space of provisional stalemate. The long white area of Remainder # 3 is occupied by a cluster of spray-mounted, photocopies whose uniform rectangles cover and mimic those of the underlying grid. These images are abstracted by repeatedly Xeroxing the cover of a DVD.
Repeating, readymade, rectilinear forms recur in VHS Stacks, a sculpture consisting of glued-together quantities of VHS cassettes. These outmoded carriers of audiovisual information were acquired from a distribution company that was liquidating its inventory.
Nothing keeps things moving along as efficiently as the cycles of novelty and obsolescence that are structured into the images and formats through which we interface with popular culture. The opacity of these un-viewable, space wasting image-objects may or may not be redeemed as sculptural form in the gallery.
Untitled (Pedal Pumping), a collaborative video produced by Faldbakken and Lars Brekke appropriates a fetish genre known as “pedal pumping.” As a hired actress attempts to start a car’s flooded engine by pumping the gas peddle, the camera zooms in on the repetitive action of her flip-flop-clad foot.
Faldbakken’s work finds ways of clearing space in order to pose the question of how to make art in the post-medium condition. It operates by staging series of negations, playing on the similarity between classic avant-garde gestures of interruption and effacement and those already at work in the capitalist system of commodity exchange. It sets up in order to shut down, always within playfully strict formal and economic limits. Now that contemporary art has agreed to function as a branch of the culture industry, we find ourselves in a strangely undecidable place, talking aesthetics back to industry while integrating the commodity’s ever more automatic replies.
Matias Faldbakken has published three novels The Cocka Hola Company, Macht und Rebel and Unfun (the Scandinavian Misanthropy trilogy). Upcoming solo exhibitions include The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo; Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, Switzerland and IKON, Birmingham.
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