Magicker of the Solutional Cave
Opening March 28th @ Auxiliary Projects
212R Norman Avenue, Brooklyn
Auxiliary Projects is excited to present a selection of work by Aimée Burg from March 28 through May 3, 2015. This is the gallery's first spring exhibition in its new location in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We will host an opening reception on Saturday, March 28, from 6-8pm. The gallery is open Saturdays and Sundays from 1-6pm and by appointment.
On Star Trek (the original, obvs) the crew would sometimes visit planets that only appeared primitive. Although the aliens’ civilization was more advanced than our own, their planet’s development had not been parallel to ours and so retained traces that reminded the crew of human cave painting or crude pottery. Most often, these artifacts would deceive the crew, who would not realize until later that the host planet’s life forms were more psychically evolved than humans and therefore less beholden to material fanfare. Their built environment, far from being reduced to ergonomics, was in fact fulfilling the entire spectrum of uses from physical to spiritual, extensions of capacities unseeable to the human eye.
For our spring rebirth, Auxiliary Projects presents the sculpture of Aimée Burg. Simultaneously futuristic and crude, they have the air of usefulness for purposes we are not able to discern. Undergrowth could be an interface, an abacus, or a musical instrument. Breastplate is not just forlorn hanging rods, but rather a sculpture intertwined with its museum display (but also somehow mini-blinds). Casted evokes children’s book castles but also distills its form, like a logo, to a stylized icon. The sculptures are fashioned in simple shapes from common materials, yet they have an awkwardness that feels non-contemporary. Possibly a work like Skyscraper Landscape alludes to ancient technology and symbolizes what may have been lost since we filled our vision, hands, and pockets with smooth touchable glass holding sparkly pictures. Burg’s sculptures are neither smooth nor sparkly. Her Wedges series present what seems like a visual system or a code--maybe we should try touching them. If we did would a hidden door open?
These works neighbor useful objects but announce their own volition. Imagine them posed next to a functioning bowl, next to a real gamepiece, next to actual miniblinds. Or it’s quite perfect to see them in a gallery, giving us six weeks to study them. Or maybe (accidentally!) drop one on the floor and open an inter-dimensional wormhole to a solutional cave.
Tabula Rasa is a group show of work discussing/showing the idea of the table and the discourses we have with this object and space. It is not only a matter of what a table is but also what takes place at or on a table. Our language appreciates the literal and metaphorical potential of this everyday object: when we are open to possibilities, we say All ideas are on the table. These interactions--from a romantic dinner for two to a large board meeting--span every class and social space. This show’s focus on the table examines these crucial instants and decisions.
The table is, by custom, an area where differing or even opposing representatives can be assembled in temporary (and perhaps artificial) harmony. Several of the artists of Tabula Rasa explore this notion. Monika Sziladi’s composite photographs gather people literally at the table. Though the subjects are unaware they have been brought together, the tension is still palpable. Catherine Telford-Keough, too, gathers a dinner party--a very usual guest list of father and daughter, but both are compelled to dine by an arbitrary, unsettling script. Or is arbitrary and unsettling the rule even for the most casual dinner gathering? How many of us have turned to altered states of consciousness to escape such a table? Frank DeLeon Jones’ photos plumb this escapism, grasping at the edges of an evening where every guest has retired to a mental Green World.
What is served forth on the table is often more important than who sits beside it. Tamar Ettun offers several courses of tension in transit: a riding mount, a sail, a jetliner, wheel-forms, all abstracted via breakage, repair, or recovery. Tension is also on the table in Sam Anderson’s sound and sculpture. Here, the figures are too placid, so doll-like that the idea of play deeply unsettles. Steve Paneccasio unsets the table entirely, presenting photographs of tablecloths in stark detail. Each flaw in the cloth holds a story, but absent a storyteller, the imperfections may also be a source of self-conscious worry. Conversely, Nate Heiges’ tablecloth is anything but self-conscious: a sheer, composed drape of fishnet. And if its covering has become a shapely skirt or stocking, then what carnal role has the table itself adopted?
Extreme perspectives add a final approach to the table. Shanti Grumbine uses one long lens to look through another: a photo of Afghans dining at their blanket-table in the New York Times is erased and cut down, but its meaning--and the unmistakable context of the Grey Lady--persist. At the other end of the spectrum, someone has become so involved in Lorraine Dauw’s table of cast foam that they have taken a “bite,” blurring the lines of table, meal, and guest. But, like all its peers in Tabula Rasa, the table still remains a mannered space.
How have table manners developed, and how do these inform our lives? And what does it mean to willfully remove oneself from these contexts--when the table becomes a bed, a canvas; when circumstance and fast food make our work-desks and laps into the kitchen table? To step away from the table signals an end to negotiations. Tabula Rasa instead presses and explores these ordinary negotiations with the world.
Frank De Leon-Jones