The works in this exhibition touch upon collage as a practice, branching into investigations of books as objects and reading as an act.
By altering and combining a vast assortment of books, maps, isolated texts, photographs, and other source material, Jonathan Callan explores “the relationship of disembodied knowledge to embodied experience.” The results are often surprisingly beautiful experiments in alchemy, all the more surprising given the violence of his techniques, which can include punching objects with tools and applying corrosive agents.
Rodney Graham explores the ways in which images, sounds, and objects communicate their meaning. Incorporating a wide array of cultural, literary, musical, and philosophical influences, from Donald Judd to Dr. Seuss to Kurt Cobain to Sigmund Freud, Graham injects an understated humor into his deceptively minimalist constructions. In Reading Machine for Lenz, Graham continuously repeats a fragment of a Romantic text written by Büchner in 1835 which focuses on the character’s Lenz’s endless journey in search for the meaning of life.
Matthew Higgs creates work that consists of pages found from books and exhibition catalogues unearthed in antiquarian bookstores. Higgs presents framed pages with graphic elements that question the nature of art in his use of appropriated form. The abstract designs and use of text recall early abstraction and conceptualism.
German artist Imi Knoebel, a former student of Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 1964-1971, is revered in Europe as a quirky, quasi-geometric colorist. Spanning the area between painting and sculpture, Knoebel’s main body of work is in the constructivist tradition. His series of cut and paste forms on paper from 1977-78 “set the logical against the random,” discounting the systems that came before him.
The work of Hirsch Perlman can be seen as “doubt-laced attempts to construct something enduring, substantial, meaningful, and grand from humble and ephemeral materials.” His black and white photographs of various sized envelopes examine issues of clarity, representation, and design. These pieces from the late 1980’s suggest a semiotic interplay between means and meaning, index and metaphor, the literal and the allegorical.
Andrzej Zielinski’s drawings of machines, specifically paper shredders, disregard the impact of digital technology on traditional methods of art making. The works explore the relationship between humans and their tools, allowing each machine to hum in its own useless singularity. His compositions destabilize the viewer by toying with both actual and perceived space, expanding into three dimensions and variations of mark making.