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Marc Handelman, Geological Sketches at Home and Abroad

Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
530 West 22nd Street, 212-929-2262
March 17 - April 16, 2011
Reception: Thursday, March 17, 6 - 8 PM
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Sikkema Jenkins & Co. is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Marc Handelman titled Geological Sketches at Home and Abroad on view from March 17 through April 16, 2011. This is Handelman’s second solo exhibition at the gallery.

Working across mediums including a series of paintings, a 16mm projection, and an artist’s book, Handelman’s new work continues to explore the contingencies of painting within the broader aesthetic spheres of cultural and political production. Following recent bodies of work, the current exhibition situates the sign landscape within an unfolding series of displacements, projections, veneers, and kinds of presence whose respective frames are continuously breeched from picture to image to object in both literal and suggestive correspondences.

The exhibition contains a series of large-scale framed paintings based on the compositions and chroma of marble cladding or what is commonly referred to as “dimension stone”, intimating works that are at once architectural, pictorial, and quasi-mimetic.

In another work, Sundial, Substrate, Scene (2011), a painting’s image is dissembled from its ground. The work employs a recently obsolete Hollywood special effect technique called “matte painting” where, typically, a background is painted around a live action shot on a piece of black glass, later sutured together to create the effect of a seamless reality. In Handelman’s piece, the live action has yet to be synthesized into the picture: the background image of the matte painting is suspended—projected as a continuous 16mm film loop back onto the support from which it originally surfaced and from which the painting was subsequently scrapped off.

The exhibition also presents the artist’s book Archive for a Mountain, which explores the political, historical, semiotic, and highly subjective projection onto one of landscape’s most over-determined objects. Here images are treated as sedimentary layers in a shifting topography whose constitutive picture is endlessly deferred. While a singular and cohesive semblance is rendered impossible, the figure of painting might already be said to have regulated and inhabited many of these scenes—their contents, conventions, and motifs.

In all of these works, landscape is deployed as varying kinds of strata across a range of surfaces. The notion of obfuscation or a blind spot has particular resonance here in the play between different optical effects from the ideological to the phantasmic. Through a series of exposures—where what is rendered visible is literally the part of the landscape you don’t see, any apparent transparency is actually the substitution of one form of opacity for another.

The paintings of dimension stone might alternately affect a kind of essence of mountain, or landscape, while insistent painterly facture and residual artifice ruptures their illusory character. And yet real marble cladding is always already just a surface eliciting imaginary wholeness-an aestheticized veneer to a wholly larger supporting edifice. And marble too, seems to suggest an elusive index of geological-time, historically instrumentalized by state and corporate power under a generalized and natural aesthetics of legitimizing authority. They become territorial ciphers, catalogues of extra-perceptual forces-the ostensible clocks of an eternal temporal register. Marc Handelman has exhibited extensively throughout the United States as well as internationally. Recent exhibitions and projects have taken place at PS 1 MoMA in Long Island City, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Royal Academy of Art in London, UK. His work will be included in the exhibition Common Love: Aesthetics of Becoming in Contemporary Art on view at the Wallach Gallery at Columbia University from April 27 through June 11, 2011.

(The book Archive for a Mountain features contributions from Ed Steck, Natalie Haeusler, and Halsey Rodman. The film for Sundial, Substrate, Scene, was shot by Thomas Torres Cordova.)
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