Magic For Beginners
Bas Jan Ader, Olaf Breuning Jennifer Cohen, Scott Hug Kevin Lips, Niall McClelland, Jesse McLean, Kristie Muller Rbt. Sps., Brent Stewart
Curated by Jamie Sterns and Joseph Whitt
Historically, the formulas of Modernism have lent themselves to the imposition of structures on nature. Utilizing an economy of means, or a paring down of form, some artists have drawn attention to the processes and materials that they employ in order to comment on limitations inherent in human observation and experience. The impossibility of this search for certainty is prescient in a world rife with unforeseen technological advances and consequences. From Kurzweilian “singularities” to the embrace of dystopic or parallel hyper-realities, many artists today use Modernist tropes to draft odes to possible futures.
In the face of such infinitely malleable destinies, the ten artists selected for this exhibition remain undaunted. In bold, minimal and idiosyncratic terms, they propose new, decidedly un-grandiose, vernaculars through various mediums such as video, photography, and sculpture. Their works concern themselves with an intensely personal present tense, with lives lived and documented in real time. These works are inward, solipsistic, and in some instances, similar to an occult experience or an exercise in ritualized revelation. The art object is often left over from actions performed in service of an impossible quest, or crafted in playful celebration of it. These artists seem to exist in cultural peripheries, lobbing ruminations out of left fields, revealing epistemological truths—truths that have little or nothing to do with changing the world.
Exhibiting artists: Bas Jan Ader (born Winschoten, the Netherlands, 1942, lost at sea, 1975; artist’s estate represented by Patrick Painter Gallery, Los Angeles); Olaf Breuning (lives and works in New York City; represented by Metro Pictures, New York); Jennifer Cohen (lives and works in New York City; represented by Salon 94, New York); Scott Hug (lives and works in New York City); Kevin Lips (lives and works in New York City); Niall McClelland (lives and works in Toronto, Canada); Jesse McLean (lives and works in Chicago, Illinois); Kristie Muller (lives and works in Toronto, Canada); Rbt. Sps. (lives and works in Murray, Kentucky); Brent Stewart (lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee)