Taking its title from László Moholy-Nagy’s 1922 essay Produktion-Reproduktion, this exhibition revisits his engagement with the Berlin avant-garde and the circle of émigrés who left Hungary following the collapse of the socialist revolution. In these years Moholy formulated a politicized theory of aesthetics invested with materialism. He sought to incorporate the capacities of the body by posing a model of a wholly receptive biology: the collected cells and organs sensitized to and shaped by aesthetics. As such Moholy expressed deep concern for the sensory habituation technologies may inflict within the body itself. In Produktion-Reproduktion, Moholy lays out the framework for his life-long project to parse the innate qualities of emergent technologies – to leverage the positive capacity for productive creation as he called it, in opposition to the stultifying effects of market-driven reproduction. In a 1932 essay he states “This phase is best expressed by capitalism’s anti-biological use of technology…[It] has already caused irreparable damage; generations have become enfeebled in their biological functions.”
Already in the 1922 essay, Moholy sought to deploy the logic of productive creation within the still-young field of photographic imaging “to receive and record various light phenomena (parts of light displays) which we ourselves will have formed” – in other words, to produce non-figurative images through direct manipulation of light. His thinking on the subject developed in conjunction with photographic technology emerging at the time. In particular, the Leica I – the camera that first made photography accessible to non-professionals – shared a complex political history, closely paralleling Moholy’s own. This exhibition addresses the lineage of direct technological manipulation in Moholy’s work and pivots on a selection of his in-camera ‘light painting’ investigations as expressed in a series of abstract color photographs.
Over his lifetime Moholy made strides with black and white photographic abstraction using the photogram technique, however, his long-standing ambition to do the same with color images was never realized. Made impossible by the state of photographic printing technology of the day, the project exited the darkroom to investigate the possibility of in-camera manipulation. The five abstract images in this exhibition made between 1937 and 1946, exemplify his work to directly manipulate light and color in photosensitive mediums. Moholy died in 1946 making this late series the last of his investigation on the subject and perhaps his closing remarks with regard to Produktion-Reproduktion. The images were both prescribed and limited by the state of technology at the time they were made: the Kodachrome film employed for much of his color work was limited to producing slide transparencies. Despite significant research with color printing techniques, he was never able to achieve the color fidelity he desired in reproducing the images in print format – a project that would only be completed over half a century later by master-printer Liz Deschenes. Thus the particular technical history in this work manifests Moholy’s nuanced understanding of technological progress.
For this exhibition a selection of biographical photos is presented in their original slide format – the intimacy of the works in their inceptive medium underscores the biological imperative and the agency of desire within Moholy’s aesthetic framework. Moholy was driven by a Modernist ideal of human progress that he strove to achieve within his own life through self-embodiment and reproductive teleology. Accordingly, the role of the familial body should not be overlooked when considering Moholy’s work. Included are his two daughters in Portrait of Hattula and Claudia Moholy-Nagy, 1945; his wife in Sibyl Moholy-Nagy in red blouse, 1945; and himself with “M=N” Self portrait of László Moholy-Nagy, 1944.
After 1937 Moholy worked primarily with the Leica series of cameras and, as with his own biography, the history of the camera’s development cannot be untangled from the political upheavals of its time. The Leica I was released in the 1920s followed by the Leica II in 1932. During this same period the Soviet Union – unable to trade with Europe – began reproducing foreign technologies within the commune factories. In this way the Leica came into existence with a double life: the German original and a Soviet reproduction known as the FED. German forces destroyed the FED commune near the end of the war and manufacturing ceased until the fall of the Nazi regime when German technologies were expropriated back to the Soviet Union to rebuild production lines (in one notable instance, relocating an entire Zeiss factory). In the postwar years Leica copies continued to develop, some embellished with Leica logos and exaggerated connotations of wealth such as snakeskin leather and gold accents. Early models were intended for the Soviet audience, but following the collapse of the USSR, FED-made Leica copies found their way into western markets. With growing awareness of the Soviet provenance amongst collectors, a final revision came to light: re-inscribed with Nazi insignias intended to indicate German authenticity – a replica of a reproduction of a copy with no referent. For Production / Reproduction an original Leica II as well as three successive FED reproductions are presented.
A reconstruction of a Moholy bench from the late 1920s occupies the central space of the gallery. The obscure work is the only known piece of furniture by Moholy and was designed expressly for use in gallery exhibitions during the modern reconfiguration of the Landesmuseum, Hannover. However, with the bench’s incidental yet unsettling formal relation to the Nazi Swastika, a sense a foreboding shadows Moholy’s biography and the brutal impact WWII would make upon his person. Here the body rests, given into its material condition. It is this limit that Moholy sought to exceed. That is, it is the body’s unbounded desire for sensation that holds within itself Moholy’s conception of ‘productive creation’; a force to resist what he considered to be the oppression inflicted by the dominant powers when left to their own devices. “It is a specifically human characteristic that man’s functional apparatuses can never be saturated.”- Erik Wysocan
Planet Gratitude by Rory Rowan
A new text published in conjunction with The Fifth Season, James Cohen Gallery
The iPhone 3G, this innocuous and already slightly outmoded little cluster of minerals and marketing is an emblematic meeting point for the material and symbolic processes shaping the contemporary entanglement of social and geologic stratifications: both product and engine of the great cleavages of the global economy, those geopolitical fractures that Marxist critics refer to with euphemistic kid gloves as ‘uneven development’; a treasured possession bound up with resource wars and environmentally destructive extraction practices driven by a rapacious global system of neo-colonial corporate-feudalism; the consumer excretion of a world where exhausted Chinese factory workers are driven to suicide satisfying the herd instincts of those queuing around the block of landmark retail spaces, to be the first to dissect the latest cosmetic innovations in the myopic navel of the Yelposphere; a Trojan horse for the ever increasing marketization of all areas of life and a key instrument in the ongoing erosion of the distinction between work and everything else; a vital tracking device in the fiction that endlessly curating one’s life as a surveillance-ready editorial spread will bear fruit in coherent self realization rather than exponential alienation, no matter how many tinting apps are used to create a trompe l’oeil of ‘authentic experience’...Download Full PDF
Chromophore - A Brief History of Optical-Monetary Abstraction
For Daemon - Reed Arts Week 2014
Trisha Donnelly, Antoine Catala, Oliver Laric, Lucas Blalock , Erik Wysocan, Ginny Cook, and Laura Heit
This is my living will. There are small errors in my codes after these few years. It must have been some fast particle that dislodged a few atoms deep inside the long nucleotide chains. Each collision was recorded. The cells carry it on in their reproductions and so it cannot be rebuked! I'm not exaggerating when I tell you they were cosmic in origin …and here and there a hadron shower passed my way...
I've lived well: my liver is big – a sign of life's pleasures. My body is rich with teleost photopigments, now an accurate photonic calorimeter. So that you may not find home how you left. It would be very dark for you, but my plants still manage to grow – long, and thin – they're climbing through what they sense is a dense forest canopy, hoping to reach an open sky. I think you would have a similar sense – a humid jungle at night – calm, waiting, predatory.
I wish to leave this to you: an officious magic I've taken from the state directly. When I say taken, I mean that it was ingested, eaten. I want to give you this dietetic plan. It is little more than a book of recipes but it must be followed carefully. Will you remember?
First, let me tell you a story.Download Full PDF
The Fainnie Azul Horologe Launch
Artists Space Books & Talks »
55 Walker Street
Friday, February 28, 7pm
Federico Acal, Nina Beier, Goda Budvytyte, Liudvikas Buklys, Frank Chu, Trisha Donnelly, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Ceal Floyer, Isa Genzken, Halflifers, Euan Macdonald, Mahony, Eva Marisaldi, Giovanni Oberti, Julie Peeters, Post Brothers, Rosemarie Trockel, Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven, Erik Wysocan
VEERLE is a project and a site of projection sited in and out of the project-room of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. The sum total of the works it comprises, VEERLE will be kept in constant calculation through a series of overlapping and simultaneous propositionsslow-drip videos, oral reports, gossip, newspapers, web subjects, postal projects, guided visits of the exhibition, daylong screenings, performances in the surrounding residential areas, and so on. Veerle is, quite simply, a given name chosen to unite multiple ranges of artistic activity under the semblance of a single distinguishable corporality. In some cases, the participating artists were expressly invited to contribute work for the occasion. In others, their work was selected from the Fondaziones vast collection. VEERLE consumes the fixed coordinates of exhibition, place, timeframe, primary/secondary statuses, and format, as the organizers recycle the same objects and operations of the same artistseven as the objects are never physically moved.
The title of Erik Wysocans recent solo show at Laurel Gitlens new Lower East Side space, Paris Spleen, comes from a Charles Baudelaire story in which the gift of a counterfeit coin provokes an epistemological crisis. It was a fitting allegory for an exhibition interested in the aesthetic and material
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Edgardo Aragn, Christopher Aque, Ernst Benkert, Lynda Benglis, Edmund Carpenter, Antoine Catala, William Eggleston, Corin Hewitt, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Bill Jenkins, Josh Kline, Paul Kos, Marie Lund, Anissa Mack, Elizabeth McAlpine, Park McArthur, Ryan McLaughlin, Joseph Montgomery, Will Rogan, Brian Sharp, Mateo Tannatt, Alina Tenser, Allyson Vieira, Jesse Willenbring, Erik Wysocan
Like an octopus, a centipede, or an exquisite corpse, this exhibition has too many hands, too many feet, and reaches in several directions. With new works by gallery artists and selected works from invited friends and colleagues, this hydra-like exhibition speaks to influence, friendship, inspiration, and curiosity.
This exhibition includes at least one rebus, seven paintings, two sculptures that fit in boxes, and an ethnographic film. It includes two pieces of toast, a wall on casters, a chair with no legs, and a wall label. There will be Axe Body Wash, a glass candlestick, and an Abercrombie and Fitch shopping bag. There are also 22 Polaroids, an arrangement of vegetables, a latex-shiny black quilt, one projection, and a portrait or two. There is a balancing broom, a mobile, a photograph of a mountain in Oaxaca, and C-prints made from invisible moments of 35mm films.
Most importantly, this is the inaugural group exhibition of our new space at 122 Norfolk Street. Strangely, it is also our third exhibition in this location; another non sequitur.
An image can often be obscure or impenetrable to the natural investigation deriving from a curiosity which is activatesd exactly because an immediate interpretation is resisted. This is also valid for the objects constituting the image, which formally could embrace all types of mediums: painting, sculpture, photography or installation. The resistance to penetration has its own reason and is often implicitly linked to the analysis and research process which are an integral part of the work and to the quantity of data it contains.
The ability of synthesis of information is a distinguishing point and derives from aptitudes that each artist applies in the formalization of the final image. In the same way it also becomes a result of personal experiences and thoughts linked to real life. The final expression of this process is most sensed with a high degree of sincerity and intellectual honesty, which determine the form and the artist's degree of sensibility.
It is equally true though, that art cannot do without fascination, which is an integral part of it, and at times is sensed only if the content of the object of investigation does not appear immediately. Sometimes the formal definition can be abstract and the nature of the investigation very distant from its origin, or the result of continuous investigative elaborations. All this determines that the interest heads naturally to the constitutive process producing the final form of the work and that the choice of materials and language is appropriate to address the information representing it.
For which reason why a form or a material is preferred over another, or why curiosity pushes us to observe some things and to ignore others does not have a single answer. But what is sure is that curiosity is linked to an evolution of our mind and to a constant educational path of our aesthetic and ethic sense, to a continuous interpretation of models expressed by other artists and compared to each other also in virtue of a historical interpretation. It is also true that new paths are undertaken and sometimes irresolution and non-perception of the end of the road are the gist of it that determines the final result. What appears evident is the object and many times it can be alien to the original emotional and rational push which generated it, but however available to connections open to other objects and to multiple interpreting readings in the eyes of the observer.
EW: Your recent show Tetrachomat in Bergen featured a large sequence of paintings from the Fold series canvases that have been folded and wrinkled to produce a three-dimensional topography and then spray-gun painted before being drawn back out onto stretcher frames. The color gamut at once evokes both the aesthetic affect of digital imaging as well as the sun-faded ghost of analog photography, resulting is an extraordinarily seductive set of images resistant to the traditional discourses within painting. In reviewing past writing on the series I noted that the term Trompe l'oeil comes up quite often - though there is disagreement as to whether you are employing the illusionary technique or are in fact producing its antithesis: a topological trace of the material process of painting. Having such fundamentally different implications, it's unusual that a painting could swing so widely in its interpretation, but this strikes me as the essential point that the work raises: the phenomenological problem of the incongruity between thing and perception. Here the canvas comes to stand in for the retinal field on which the object necessarily becomes a sort of trompe l'oeil in the process of being perceived by the mind. In this space the image and its referent object reach a sort of equivalence.
TA: I've had mixed feelings about the term trompe-loeil being used to describe the Folds, and I've really come to embrace that. Although they fit the description in some ways, it's a bit too simple to stop there, because the term doesn't account for the fact that each painting is a representation of one or more states of a particular surface on that same surface. There is a direct 1:1 indexing that has taken place, like a tally of the depth of each spot recorded on the same spot.
It also sort of gives me too much or at least the wrong kind of credit. The believability of the rendering is not a result of my painterly skill, in the traditional sense. Sure, I make subjective, artistic decisions about folding patterns, color, contrast and texture, but the lines and shadows are to a large extent not contrived by me. When I fold the canvas, I can't even seelet alone control what is happening inside the little bundle I'm making. The material wrinkles and bends internally in ways that I am not privy to until I unfold it and lay it on the ground before spraying. The resulting image is a natural result of a system i've devised, rather than my ability to generate a convincing rendering of a cease that i've either imagined or observed. In a way, I'm "cheating" the same way taking a photograph was once considered cheating: by recording something rather than fabricating it. It's also like the photographic process in that the pigment acts like raking light, and the image is the result of a certain length of exposure to that "light".
It's because of this that, as you rightly point out, the canvas can be a stand-in for a photosensitive surface like the retina, and there is a kind of collapse that occurs when the thing one is seeing and the surface on which the first part of seeing occurs bear a process-like resemblance. I think you articulated this better than I did just now. Your question also makes me think about memory as a kind of trompe-l'oiel. A trick of the eye wherein you "see" a reconstruction of an image.Read full interview...
White Petals Surround Your Yellow Heart
Artists: Hilton Als; Lynda Benglis; Bernadette Corporation; Genesis Breyer P-Orridge; Dexter Sinister with Halmos; Leif Elggren; Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven; Karen Kilimnik; Irena Knezevic; Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin; Erin Leland; Zoe Leonard; Wardell Milan; Paulina Olowska; Seth Price; Rammellzee; Nick Relph; Carissa Rodriguez; Aura Rosenberg, John Miller & Frank Lutz; Nader Sadek; Frances Stark; Catherine Sullivan; Scott Treleaven; and Amy Yao.
White Petals Surround Your Yellow Heart presents the work of artists engaged with clothing, adornment, and self-presentation to highlight the inventive design, tactical implementation, or sartorial sense by which we multiply and complete our personalities. On view in ICA's First Floor Space February 6 through July, 28, 2013, this group exhibition takes inspiration from this definition by novelist JG Ballard"Fashion: A recognition that nature has endowed us with one skin too few, and that a fully sentient being should wear its nervous system externally."
Artworks in a variety of media infuse garments with a distinctive sense of posethe exclusive province of neither the advertisement nor the runwayto stand, statue-like, with an attitude perfumed by immense mediation and an unsteady social sphere. With examples from outlandish costumes to self-published magazines, jewelry to sculpture, performance to painting, this sensibility permeates all fields. Oscillating between branding, self-recognition, sexuality, political uniform, and economic indicator, our adornment always reflects a chosen position in and with society. Told time and time again that ours is a narcissistic age, how do we positively reveal or covertly enact desires before the mirror of our time?
This exhibition is organized by ICA Associate Curator Anthony Elms, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.
Laurel Gitlen, New York
Might it not multiply into many pieces of good money? Might it not also lead to prison? A baker, a tavern keeper, for instance, might have him arrested as a counterfeiter or a disseminator of bad money. But on the other hand, the counterfeit coin for a poor little speculator, might well be a germ of several days' wealth. And so my fancy ran riot, lending wings to my friend's imagination and drawing all possible deductions from all possible hypotheses.
Baudelaire, Paris Spleen
Laurel Gitlen is pleased to announce Paris Spleen, a solo exhibition of new work by Erik Wysocan. This will be the first exhibition in our new space at 122 Norfolk Street.
What gives value to value? Through a series of sculptural objects, paintings and displays, Paris Spleen develops a commentary on the creation of value, and the role of optical, aesthetic, and subjective dynamics for such production. Rather than considering this question from the perspective of circulation, the exhibition takes as its starting point the figure of the counterfeiter: for example, a coin minted by Diogenes, notorious for debasing his silver alloy with non-precious metals, is represented here as a series of casts of an actual ancient drachma, which was long ago stamped with the Greek philosophers initialscounterfeits of the original counterfeit.
Such doubling is reinforced with the presentation of mirrors, arranged to reverse the normally reversed image of the viewer, alongside plywood substitutes of previous works, and sculptural displays which occupy space in lieu of the objects themselves. In this way, the assurance of value through optical securitythat is, through epistemological certaintyis revealed as dependent upon a secondary support system.
But Wysocans work goes further than a deconstructive minimalism with his super-black paintings. By repurposing a material originally developed for the aerospace industrythis is possibly the darkest man-made material ever manufactured (99.99% black)the paintings reference a tension at play in the history of abstraction, the contrasting value of color-field paintings; and yet the dead matte surfaces, almost tactile in their swallowing of light, subordinate this tension to a prior mode of valuation, that of the eye and of our sensory-motor system. Abstraction operates here not as a counterpoint to figuration but by reaching the optical baseline of perception as such.
This thematic continues in the back of the gallery. At first glance, the wall-mounted displays appear to be empty. Yet from behind each black glazing there emanates the palest of geometric glows: with an arrangement of three sets of currency (the US dollar, the euro, and drachma forgeries) under an infrared lighta common technique used to identify counterfeit currencyWysocan merges discourses on aesthetic and financial abstraction. It is at the limits of perception, at that point where the image vanishes and there is only void, that the abstract, axiomatic functioning of capitalism operates with the most aggression.
But on that threshold, and after all this doubling and subtraction, what remains is the body: here, the casts of collectible figurines, beggars every last one of them, just like Diogenes himself, who slept on the streets in order to repudiate, not just with words but with his very corporeality, the values of ancient Greek society. The debasement of currency, the revaluation of bodies: Wysocans exhibition indicates how the truth of value productionnot of the market system, but of our living materialitycan only be spoken from the position of the counterfeiter.
Erik Wysocan (b. 1977) lives and works in New York. His work has previously been exhibited at SculptureCenter, New York; Brown Gallery, London; and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, where in 2011 he had his first solo exhibition. Under his imprint Halmos he recently produced Dexter Sinister, Watch Wyoscan 0.5 Hz in collaboration with Dexter Sinister, currently on view at Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp. This February, it will be included in White Petals Surround Your Yellow Heart at the ICA Philadelphia.
Please note the gallerys new location at 122 Norfolk Street, one block east of Essex Street between Rivington and Delancey. The gallery is open WednesdaySunday, 11am6pm. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.274.0761.
122 Norfolk Street
New York, NY 10002
An interview with Workingroup
Our most recent project is an interview with Erik Wysocan. His new photographic work, which is based on an imaging technique first invented by the French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat, provides a fascinating study of the way in which scientific, historical, and economic discourses produceand ultimately rely uponan aesthetic dimension.
Book Week II: In Translation
Miguel Abreu Gallery
Wednesday, October. 24th - Sunday, November 4th
Miguel Abreu Gallery and Sequence Press are pleased to present Book Week II: In Translation, with Collages by Raha Raissnia. The gallery floor will be arranged as a bookshop and reading room with recent titles from mostly local publishers. In addition, selections will be on hand from the Lower East Side Heritage Collection, a unique archive of specialized, non-circulating books at the Seward Park branch of the New York Public Library.
On a recent trip to the Seward branch, Johanna Lewis and Sean Ferguson, the librarians responsible for breathing life back into the once-hidden LES Heritage Collection, pointed out Trictionary to us. This English/Chinese/Spanish dictionary, published in 1982, is a reference of words and phrases as spoken on the Lower East Side. In the introductory pages of the book, which include a guide for use and a list of important people in China and the Caribbean, we learned the project arose out of the need in the Chinatown Lower East Side area of Manhattan, New York City for simple, multi-lingual reference work to help people communicate with each other. We also found a collection of translated letters to the Jewish Daily Forward, A Yiddish Word Book for English-Speaking People, and an anthology of Nuyorican Poetry in Spanish and English.
After a short walk from the library, we engaged our neighbors across the street at Bidoun and learned they are presently translating a back issue of the magazine into Arabic. Across town, Seven Stories pulled Hwang Sok-yong's The Old Garden off their shelves and New York Review Books suggested poet Richard Howards translation of Balzacs The Unknown Masterpiece from their classics catalogue. Archipelago sent copies of Henri Michauxs Stroke by Stroke and Dalkey Archive Press dropped off Collected Novellas by Arno Schmidt. We then swiftly gathered a wide range of titles from the following group of publishers that incorporate the precise art of translation into their programming:
Dalkey Archive Press
New York Review Books
Open Letter Books
Seven Stories Press
New York Public Library's Lower East Side Heritage Collection
D.A.F. de Sade with contributions by Paul Chan, Claire Fontaine, Gareth James, Sam Lewitt, Pratchaya Phinthong, Pamela Rosenkranz, John Russell, and Antek Walczak.
Translation by Robin Mackay
Edited by Erik Wysocan
Weep no more, citizens; they breathe, these celebrated men for whom we cry; our patriotism reanimates them...Presented in honor of Marat and Le Pelletier, "Citizen Sade" wrote this memorial address at the height of violence during the French Revolution, just after the start of the Reign of Terror. The text, effusive and cloyingly patriotic, brings to question Sade's own political position a provocative impulse all the more remarkable given the addresses audience: the gathered Section des Piques, amongst the most hardline Jacobin districts of Paris. Though frequently cited and made infamous as the inspiration for Peter Weiss' influential work of avant-garde theater Marat/Sade, the text itself has remained obscure outside of France. Presented in English for the first time, this new translation by Robin Mackay serves as the historical foundation for a collection of artist's writings. Included are Paul Chan, Claire Fontaine, Gareth James, Sam Lewitt, Pratchaya Phinthong, Pamela Rosenkranz, John Russell, and Antek Walczak.
Time is like that – both point AND duration. This is how it can bend and warp. A week, a second, a season: all are specific and discrete, but none are the same. The present can be cut to any number of lengths, from a single vibration of a cesium atom to the display cycle of a digital watch.
Dexter Sinister, Watch Wyoscan 0.5 Hz is a reverse-engineered Casio digital watch. A tiny computer replaces the existing electronics and has been reprogrammed to slowly render the current time from left to right across its liquid crystal display, completing 1 cycle every 2 seconds. It is produced by Halmos, New York with additional support from Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp and Yale Union, Portland.http://www.halmos.us.com