mercredi 10 septembre 2008
microwave (Josée Bienvenu gallery, New York)
An exhibition of drawings by seventeen artists who set up various processes of fragmentation and erosion of information. Close attention is given to execution, a concentration on the production process itself. A microwave is useful everyday to cook fast, or once a year to look at slow drawings. Since 1999, the (almost) annual edition of microwave has been an opportunity to confirm the emergence of a new attitude. As an alternative to an inhospitable era, microwave identifies an international host of artists who commit to the obscene activity of paying attention. With intense focus, patience and precision, the artists in microwave document the relentless propagation of delicacy as a subversive attitude. Ernesto Caivano, Dean Smith, Károly Keserü and Renato Orara bring drawing to an extreme, as a sort of “maximalism.” Through the endless weaving of minute components, they accumulate signals and vibrations impossible to detect without an extraordinary level of attention. Tones, hues, and shades combined with density, shapes, and intangible forms result in a grand yet subtle game, always remaining just a fragment of a whole. With obsessive attentiveness to detail, Jim Hodges, Stephen Eichhorn and Kamrooz Aram subvert the conventions of monumental practice, poetically linking evanescent moments in works of self-confident beauty. The works in the exhibition touch upon the very fragile nature of communication and exchange. Allyson Strafella’s typewritten drawings on transfer paper, Alexandra Grant’s multilayered wordscapes or Rivane Neuenschwander’s Ze Carioca altered comic books, explore ways of recording, fragmenting and obliterating information to create new non-verbal narratives. Data manipulation is also at the core of Brian Lund’s graphic translations of film sequences and of Jesse Pasca’s charted drawings: Moore’s Law, My Heart as a Stock Market and How To Be Human, map the correlation between human activity and systems of scientific data. Through minor operations on paper the artists in microwave disturb established systems of expectations. Jacob Dyrenforth’s pixilated pencil drawings of crowds at rock and roll concerts and Graham Dolphin’s scripted vinyl records disrupt and reprocess the clichéd aspirations of popular culture and the glamour industry. Growing up in Utah in the Mormon Church, Casey Jex Smith explores narratives in ancient scripture. Andrew Scott Ross’ Re-Collections inventory given museums. Randomly floating in space, artifacts are depicted in a constant curatorial drift, suspended from interpretation and hierarchy. Phoebe Washburn exposes generative systems based on absurd patterns of production. With their elaborate notations and coding, the un-monumental drawings are microcosms of her convoluted architectural environments.
In this age of big-budget artistic spectacles, an exhibition devoted to delicacy and detail is somewhat of a rarity. As such, “microwave, six” is a subtle but resonant success. Comprising works by 17 artists, it explores the limits of drawing as a medium, playing along the boundaries of precision and distortion. Jacob Dyrenforth’s pencil drawings—exceedingly exact depictions of indistinct, pixilated photos of crowds at ’70s rock concerts—are thoughtful and exhaustive, blending the shortcomings of one medium with the limitless possibilities of another. Ernesto Caivano’s Echo, which employs a similar bare-bones palette of ink and graphite on paper, is an engrossing abstract illustration that evokes movement and explosive force. The precision of Caivano’s rendering is countered by the work’s expression of unconstrained energy—a duality present in Dean Smith’s bi-polar #3 as well. Other artists in the show apply a similar diligence to experiments with methods of communication. In Rambo: First Blood Part Two (1900 + Edit Cuts), Brian Lund represents the famous action film’s plot as a series of dashes and colored dots. As the information encoded within is indecipherable to perhaps everybody but the artist himself, one is left to admire the graphic representation of a camp classic, and to assume that the ubiquitous patches of red signify Stallone, mowing down commies in the jungles of Vietnam. While the show lacks a prevailing conceptual framework, the individual efforts are uniformly impressive, making “microwave, six” dreamy and evocative throughout.
The New Yorker:
Minimal means and pop-culture references guide the seventeen artists in this show of works on paper. Allyson Strafella types colons in colored ink until the paper shreds to lace; Kamrooz Aram’s portraits coalesce from clouds of minute ink dots. Graham Dolphin draws directly onto the cover of the album “Double Fantasy,” tattooing John and Yoko’s faces with hair-thin scripts; Jacob Dyrenforth’s pencil drawings painstakingly transcribe pixellated black-and-white photographs of crowds at rock shows. Renato Orara draws a gorgeous octopus in ballpoint pen on the splayed pages of a book titled “Kant and the Platypus,” though what octopi and platypuses have in common with a-priori knowledge is anybody’s guess.