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Harris Lieberman Gallery
89 Vandam Street, 212-206-1290
November 19, 2005 - January 21, 2006
Reception: Saturday, November 19, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Featuring: Terry Chatkupt, Michael Queenland, Leslie Hewitt, Shana Lutker, Rodney Mcmillian, Ruben Ochoa, Arthur Ou, Lisa Tan, Amir Zaki

Curated by Lauri Firstenberg.

Happenstance is an exhibition of works by nine artists based in Los Angeles and New York. It began two years ago in California with initial conversations involving the work of Michael Queenland, Ruben Ochoa and Amir Zaki.

The exhibition investigates subtle, absurd and fantastical spatial and temporal experiments, based on chance and construction, primarily in the mediums of photography, video and sculpture, in an effort to question translation, invention and perception. Many of the artists in the show engage in a process that Mark Godfrey has noted in an Artforum article entitled “Image Structures: Photography and Sculpture” (February 2005): “photography and sculpture have entered a more complex phase of their relationship, folding over each other, reversing positions, flipping back and forth, the one becoming the other.”

Los Angeles native and current New York resident Michael Queenland will create a site-specific installation composed of 12 balanced brooms tensely poised on a platform in a highly formalized fashion. The time-based, performative installation will eventually collapse, demonstrating the artist’s interest in discreet occurrences and producing a paradoxical state of tension and misapprehension between object and viewer. Queenland’s work involves an ongoing and reciprocal relationship between photography and sculpture. His photographs are found and staged scenarios that index and collapse space, time and narrative. Killer, a curious still life read as an ad hoc composition, restages a stranger’s groceries at a local market.

Ruben Ochoa’s work is particularly geared toward the investigation of geography and gentrification in Los Angeles. Ochoa uses juxtapositions between high and low culture to critically examine geographical and socioeconomic divisions in the city. His recent series of Freeway Wall Extractions are straight photographs with a sly perspective. Ochoa camouflages fragmented freeway concrete slabs into gentrified neighborhoods in Los Angeles, encroaching upon and disrupting the suburban calm. Ochoa is producing a series of photographic, sculptural and public works based on the freeway wall concept. For his New York debut, Ochoa will show one of the Freeway Wall Extractions along with a site-specific installation of balancing found ladders. Borrowed Ladders began with the intention of engaging community businesses in Los Angeles to temporarily lend the artist ladders to create a series of happenings.

Living and working in Los Angeles, Amir Zaki’s photographs of southern California’s suburban landscape turn into fantastical and impossible architectonic structures. Critic Bruce Hainley has written that in Zaki’s work ”... the natural state of photography is something supernatural and inhuman.” A recent body of work featured in this exhibition takes the form of a razed house from California rains and mudslides, continuing his interest in the tragic potential and volatility of architectural form and the charge of its representation.

Leslie Hewitt’s Riffs on Real Time are photomontages, approaching the troubling of space photographically, what she terms a “simultaneous construction of ‘the real’ in the photograph through echoes of sculptural “space” defined through texture and material.”

Los Angeles based artist Rodney McMillian’s constructivist installations of abject remains from domestic spaces include minimalist stacks of discarded mattresses and painterly stained rugs tilted to the axis of the vertical plane. McMillian’s contributions speak to minimalism directly. McMillian’s decontextualization of urban detritus restages context and use, and approaches the representation of politics through the re-articulation of objects. His contemporaries Terry Chatkupt and Arthur Ou return to their home towns and create video, photography and sculpture that is both banal and universal yet geopolitically specific.

Los Angeles artist Shana Lutker’s Art that I Dreamt that I Made documents in both photography and sculpture the work of her unconscious . Lisa Tan’s project focuses on a Baccarat crystal vase, a gift from an older woman to the artist. Her attempts to demolish it by throwing it from a building are futile. She endeavors to represent it photographically, yet the object resists both deconstruction and representation.

Lauri Firstenberg is the Director/Curator of LAXART, a nonprofit contemporary art space in Los Angeles .

In the conjunction with the opening of Happenstance, My Barbarian, the Los Angeles-based music and performance group, will perform at Harris Lieberman on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.
Have photos of this show? Tag them with artcal-1443 to see them here.