I have been invited to introduce four artists and their works from a sculpture show I organized in late spring 2014 at my studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn.i The show consisted of 12 sculptures presented on a table that I built. The title, Communal Table, riffs on the ubiquitous yet hollowed-out use of the expression in the restaurant industry. The communal table of this show aspired to an earlier, utopian idea of a platform where members of the community gather to share and debate ideas. By including 12 artists, I wanted to create a map of the sculptural conversations that have formed and informed my own recent sculptures. I selected artists well known to me, with whom I have a history of exchange and shared ideas, as well as artists whose work I did not know in depth, but whose work had recently gained my attention.
The table is a sculpture in its own right, not simply a neutral plinth. Central to its design is the construction and pattern of the tabletop surface. Colorfully painted wooden planks form a grid of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines. The pattern consists of fragments of larger geometric systems, similar to various languages and systems that would intersect on the surface. The table and 12 sculptures were conceived as a single installation, the only prerequisite being that each artwork receive the space and presence it required.ii
Conventionally, models are displayed on tables, often as proposals to be executed in full-scale in the future. Communal Table played with this visionary aspect of smaller works. Placed on a table, even sculptures not intended as models are transported beyond their immediate environment and specific size into a fictional space of undetermined scale, where the monumental can exist next to the miniature.
Danielle Webb's Polyhaus plays directly with the convention of the architectural model by presenting us with a form based on a design for a Bauhaus-era home. Made out of a newsletter for casting and mold making published in the 1990s, Polyhaus is grounded in two time periods: autobiographically in the nineties, and historically in the era of early modernism. Constructing a sculpture from paper is a conscious alternative to conventional sculptural modes, which the newsletter serviced — turning the artwork's own making into its subject. Simultaneously, as an architectural model, Webb's piece echoes the grand ambitions of modernism and the revolutionary project of the Bauhaus.
Rico Gatson's sculpture, Mystery Object #6, could be mistaken as a model for a monumental, modernist sculpture. At closer inspection, it only plays with the form of the proposal, while firmly existing in its own scale and size. In a different way to Webb's model home, it speaks to its own making as a studio activity. Identically sized wooden blocks are stacked in a zigzag pattern to create a compressed column. Slight imperfections and irregularities reveal the manual process, and the attention to detail and labor spent. The painted base grounds the sculpture in the larger political context of Gatson's work, in which diagonally-painted stripes in red, orange, yellow, green, and black, simultaneously refer to the visual language of western modernism as well as to the project of black liberation. By putting the sculpture on this base, Gatson removes it from its surroundings and puts it into its own frame of reference. In this act, he achieves something similar to what the installation of the Communal Table is attempting.
Ian Umlauf's teparu: Endlessly (adapted) is a stack of wooden planes and wedges, printed images, and a plumb line suspended from above. Umlauf's sculpture consists of loose elements that are laid out and assembled on site. As the only work that extends beyond the table, it has a neon-colored thread that hangs from the ceiling and ties to the wall of my studio. It follows the logic of collage, combining different materials and modes of representations: the wooden planes are part of a found hollow-core door that has been cut into pieces, revealing its cardboard corrugation inside. Cut into geometric shapes, they are squared up and leveled with the architecture of the building. Two found images printed on a single paper are placed on the door fragments. Playfully didactic, they spell out other uses for this type of door, as a ramp, or a tabletop. Another print superimposes an image of Brancusi's Endless Column with a satellite image of the viewer's location. In a self-reflective move, the plum line identifies the exact location of the sculpture, and by extension, anchors the whole table in its specific geographic reality, while simultaneously following the upward, soaring movement of the Endless Column.
The three works introduced thus far have a distinct matter-of-factness. MaryKate Maher's sculpture, Brooklyn Rubble, subverts this notion with a carefully crafted pile of rocks and concrete fragments sitting on top of a miniature black trash bag. It is precariously leaning, and impossibly held by a thin metal rod. While the title suggests found debris from some derelict industrial streetscape, the rocks turn out to be skillfully hand-painted casts, mixed with actual debris and dirt. The pile's lean, its lightness and defiance of gravity, reveals the artificiality of this arrangement. The deceptive naturalism, it brings to the table, sets this sculpture apart from the other works. Similar to Umlauf's plumb line, Maher's sculpture grounds the table in its geographic context in Brooklyn. Yet by staging the illusion of her found objects, she exposes the romanticized notion of the non-determined post-industrial environment where most art is made.
i Communal Table, curated by Björn Meyer-Ebrecht, took place in Meyer-Ebrecht's studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn during the Bushwick Open Studios Weekend, May 29 to June 1, 2014. Artists included Andy Cross, Joy Curtis, Rico Gatson, Lars Kremer, MaryKate Maher, Ellie Murphy, Ben Pedersen, Marc Andre Robinson, Lynn Sullivan, Ian Umlauf, Danielle Webb and Letha Wilson.
ii My initial reluctance to present Communal Table in the format of the Culturehall feature was the limitation to four artists. The twelve artworks shared the table in a democratic manner and singling out single works seemed against the spirit of the show. I finally did commit to the feature, deciding to choose four representative works as case studies to reflect how this exhibition as whole and each of the chosen works functioned on the table.
Björn Meyer-Ebrecht is a German artist, based in New York. His sculptures function as displays of found material such as images and books. His larger work, benches, seating, and platforms, create spaces of social interaction and play with the idea of sculpture as utilitarian object. His work has been exhibited in a variety of venues, including Lesley Heller Workspace, Storefront Bushwick, Maxwell Davidson Gallery, Pocket Utopia, New Jersey Visual Arts Center, and Galeria Casa Triangulo in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 2013 he had a solo show at Matteawan Gallery, Beacon, NY, and 2014 a two-person show at Storefront TenEyck, Brooklyn.
Culturehall is thrilled to celebrate its sixth anniversary and the global community of artists and curators who have contributed to our growing online resource for contemporary art.
In the summer of 2008, David Andrew Frey founded Culturehall as a new way for artists to connect with curators, gallerists, collectors, and other artists. Culturehall has been honored to witness the outstanding achievements of artists whose work has been featured in our issues during the past six years. We would like to take this opportunity to recognize some of the many remarkable accomplishments by artists within the community.
The 2009 feature issue Framed by Nina Büsing Corvallo brought together four female photographers, including LaToya Ruby Frazier and Tiana Markova-Gold, whose work examines theoretical, political, social, and personal issues. LaToya's documentary photography about her hometown, Braddock, Pennsylvania, received critical acclaim during the 2012 Whitney Biennial, and her solo exhibition, A Haunted Capital, is currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum. Tiana was a 2010 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Photography, as well as a 2010 recipient, with writer Saran Dohrmann, of the Dorothea Lange — Paul Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for their on-going collaboration about prostitution and the marginalization of women in Morocco. This work was recently presented in a solo exhibition at the Camera Club of New York as the culmination of Tiana's 2012 Darkroom Residency.
Kelli Connell and Debbie Grossman, two featured artists who digitally alter images to re-imagine gender roles and identity, were included in After Photoshop: Manipulated Photography in the Digital Age at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this past year. Also a recent MacDowell Colony Fellow, Kelli was featured in Other Places, an issue about different generations of international artists whose photographic work explores gender and sexuality. Other artists in this issue, including Doug Ischar, were part of a group show guest curated by Tema Stauffer at the Camera Club of New York in 2011. Doug's Marginal Waters series documenting a gay beach in Chicago in the mid-eighties was recently on view at Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography in Toronto and featured in the Guardian Weekend Magazine.
Among a long list of gallery exhibitions of work by Culturehall artists in New York City, Higher Pictures included work by four featured artists — Artie Vierkant, Jessica Eaton, Letha Wilson, and Joshua Citarella — in the group show, Photography Is, in 2012. Artie, Jessica, and Letha also each had solo shows at Higher Pictures in the last two years. Letha's new series of photo-based sculptures examining the magnetic pull of the American West was recently exhibited in her solo show, Landmarks and Monuments, at Art in General. Cultured Stone, a solo show of work by another featured artist Ethan Greenbaum, was presented at Theirry Goldberg Gallery in 2012.
This spring in Chicago, conceptual artist Jason Lazarus's Chicago Works was installed in two separate areas of the Museum of Contemporary Art. His installation of work from Michael Jackson Memorial Procession is included in a group show, Love to Love You, at MASS MoCA, bringing together artists who explore the notion of being a fan as an opportunity for shared social experience and extreme personal obsession.
Constant Dullart's solo show Jennifer in Paradise opens at Import Projects in Berlin in September 2013. Featured in Being There by Jenny Jaskey, Constant also participated in an event at the New Museum in 2012 in which he released a series of works in response to the new Terms of Service conditions of several Internet services. Photographic portraits shot in Vietnam by Jamie Maxtone-Graham were shown at the Nooderlicht International Photofestival 2012 in the Netherlands this past fall. In Paris, featured artist Jo-ey Tang was selected to curate a group exhibition Forming Loss in Darkness at Praz-Delavallade as part of young curator season of Palais de Tokyo that opened in June 2013. The works in the exhibition set an alternative mise-en-scene of the rarely screened silent super-8 film Beautiful People (1998) by David Wojnarowicz, tracking the journey from slumber to death, with the history of material as a form of narrative.
Jesper Norda's recent video and sound piece, Right Hand-Left Hand, was installed in three adjacent rooms at the Gothenburg Museum of Art in Sweden. Culturehall highlighted The Centre of Silence, an earlier sound installation at the Kalmar Museum, in our New Artists Feature, Spring 2012. A Swedish artist living in Berlin, Erik Bünger will exhibit work in a group show opening at the Gothenburg Museum in September, Nyförvärv, displaying work the museum has purchased in recent years.
One of the artists selected for our New Artists Feature, Spring 2011, Sarah Palmer received the 2011 Aperture Portfolio Prize. A solo show of her photographic series, As A Real House, was presented by Aperture Gallery in Fall 2012. Featured in Traces along with three other women artists, Corinne May Botz was recently awarded a New York Film and Video Grant from the Jerome Foundation. The grant will fund an experimental video that will use the construction/deconstruction of a standardized patient simulation to explore empathy and the performative aspect of doctor-patient encounters.
Featured photographers Juliana Beasley and Christoph Gielen received Aaron Siskind Foundation Individual Photographer's Fellowships in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Sasha Rudensky, whose work was included earlier this year in Scout by Jacob Rhodes, recently received one of six fellowships granted in 2013.
Part of what made it possible for Culturehall to feature the work of this diverse and accomplished community of artists were the insights of exceptional guest curators from around the world. Culturehall has reached out to dynamic figures who shape the arts — such as curators, writers, poets, educators, artists, and gallerists — to invite them to share artists with our audience and to write essays about their work based on a curatorial theme. We've collaborated with guest curators in over twenty cities including New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris, Moscow, and Mexico City.
Culturehall would like to thank all of the guest curators who have contributed to the site: David B. Smith (28/73/91), Jordan Tate (32/62), Ruben Natal-San Miguel (34), Nina Büsing Corvallo & Candace Gottschalk (35), Erin Sickler (36), Ian Cofré (37), Leeza Meksin (39/49), Shane Lavalette (40), Zeina Assaf (41), Elissa Levy (42), Alex Ebstein & Seth Adelsberger (44/72), Matt Olson (46), Melissa Levin (48/64), Emily Carter (50), Tracy Candido (51) & Chelsea Haines (51/79), Allison Browning (52), Debora Kuan (53), Silke Bitzer (55), Jenny Jaskey (56), Ethan Greenbaum (57), Amy Fung (59), Jo-ey Tang (61), Howard Hurst (66), Oliver Wise & Eleanor Hanson Wise (67), Amy Elkins (68), Corinna Kirsch (71), Tucker Neel (75), Anna Knoebel & Tess Knoebel (76), Lauren van Haaften-Schick (78/82), Sean Justice (80), Gerardo Contreras (83), Helen Homan Wu (85), Yulia McCutcheon & Dasha Kutasina (86), Pauline Magnenat (88), Legacy Russell (89), Elly Clarke (92), Jacob Rhodes (94), Elizabeth White (95), Cindy Rucker & Brad Silk (97), Keri Oldham (98), and Abigail Smithson (100).
Thank you also to all of the artists who have shared their work on Culturehall and to our friends and supporters. We look forward to building new relationships and featuring more exceptional artists in the years ahead.