Though varied in medium and subject, each of the four artists introduced in this selection use a codified language of repeated formal elements — physical labor, isolated details, or recurring gestures — to dislocate common spaces, objects and referents from their known functions, creating estranged compositions that move beyond representation to graft a thin layer of fiction onto an otherwise recognizable reality. In doing so, these artists reveal the hidden images and ideas embedded in their chosen subjects, reanimating each in illusions that resemble their original forms, but have in some way been changed.
In Marco Zumbé's recent installation in a Cologne metro station, untitled but with melon, the artist leveraged the simplicity of direct replication by producing imitations of subway tiles and wood paneling as vinyl stickers, extending them across and into the surface of the subway wall. Bringing awareness to the physical elements in public space that are more often regarded as white noise, the tromp l'oeil effect of Zumbé's diorama-like interventions used existing elements to manipulate perception, depth and scale in order to suppress a clear sense of space.
Similarly, Philip Emde's developing series untitled (backsides) uses a single repeating element, the spine of his own artist books, to create kaleidoscopic prints. The careful composition of each print conceals the identity of the source object, and as a result, the significant portion of the artist's life and time reflected in each book is reduced to a single flattened representation. What could be read as a chronicle of Emde's personal experiences and interpretations, a form of self-portraiture, is instead an anonymized stylization that implies the presence of information without revelation.
Rebecca Howard's proposal for Direction of Play, a site-specific carpet installation, superimposes the movements that one might make through a given space onto the ground's surface. Borrowing from the tactical athletic vocabulary of playbook diagrams, Howard's gestural drawings expose the strategic movements that we choose to navigate through public and private areas, while also composing a choreography of fragmented paths that are often invisibly guided by the architecture. The performative script provided by Directions of Play offers participants both the opportunity to more consciously interact with a particular site as well as defy prefabricated modes of exchange provided by the structure of an exhibition space.
Finally, Tina Kohlmann's Obcy, as in much of her practice, blurs the space between real and mythical narratives, constructing fictional ethnographies composed of artifacts that emerge from the intersection of traditional handcraft, pop aesthetics and scientific research. Kohlmann's tongue-in-cheek technicolor depiction of a little-known creature found in the ocean's depths becomes a playful yet alien life form, an artificial fossil drawn from science fiction, a laboratory hallucination.
Jodi Waynberg is the Executive Director of Artists Alliance Inc, a non-profit organization on Manhattan's Lower East Side that plays a pivotal role in launching and strengthening the careers of emerging and mid-career artists and curators. Since joining AAI in 2012, Waynberg has curated several group and solo exhibitions including Liminal Inversions (2012), Philip Emde Destroyed My Life (2013), The Real Estate Show, What Next: 2014 (2014), and Little Gloating Eve (2014). Before joining AAI, Waynberg worked as Assistant Curator at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.