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Bob Gramsma, tanstaafl


HaswellEdiger & Co. Gallery
465 West 23rd Street, 212-206-8955
November 5 - December 18, 2005
Reception: Saturday, November 5, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

For his first solo exhibition in New York, Bob Gramsma takes as his point of departure the parable of “The Broken Window” from the essay That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen by the 19th-century French economist Frédéric Bastiat. In the parable, a young boy throws a rock through the local shopkeeper’s window. The townsfolk sympathize with the shopkeeper’s misfortune, but soon begin to point out that the broken window, although costing him six francs to repair, creates work for the glazier, who in turn spends the money on a loaf of bread from the baker, who then purchases a pair of shoes from the cobbler, and so on, thus stimulating the economy. Bastiat called this concept the “broken window fallacy” and pointed out that while the villagers appreciated the benefits brought about by the broken window, they failed to consider the costs to the shopkeeper and monies lost by those who did not stand directly in the broken window chain. The boy who broke the window did not bring any net gain to the town but instead made it one window poorer.

For tanstaafl Gramsma will exhibit Schwamendingen, OI#0485, a multi-layered architectural structure of some two hundred glass windows and doors from an old house in Zürich in conjunction with several objects including a source of light. As with past projects, Gramsma continues to subvert the function of vehicles, passageways, ports and other “A to B” systems as a means of paralleling our present climate of disinformation and mistrust. The structure pits true and artificial light against one another like fact and fiction as the viewer maneuvers its periphery in a somewhat ironic attempt to decipher or reach its true core. The entire room continues this subtle atmosphere of conflict as rays of light,are bounced off of one another, while mediated and distorted through the glass panes of the doors and windows. The seemingly transparent nature of Gramsma’s materials act to insinuate aspects of our current global, economic and cultural politics, forcing viewers to choose their positions within this spectrum. In Schwamendingen, OI#0458, Gramsma places himself directly within Bastiat’s economic chain. By recycling discarded material the artist creates a type of “net gain” where there was none, i.e., he creates something out of nothing instead of nothing out of something. Ultimately, Schwamendingen, OI#0458 becomes a new kind of doorway, one that does not purport to lead us to any one definitive truth but rather suggests that the journey itself, or in Gramsma’s case the “anti-journey,” can be much more revealing.

Dutch/Swiss artist Bob Gramsma has garnered international acclaim for his past work in various media. Recent exhibitions include OK/OKAY, curated by Marc-Olivier Wahler, Swiss Institute of Contemporary Art, New York (2005), NB, Centre PasquArt, Biel (2004), Density Change, Kunstverein Ulm (2003), Echanges, Centre d’Art Contemporain Geneve (with Christoph Buchel), and the P.S. 1/MoMA Studio Program Exhibition, New York (2003).

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