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The Sanctuary and the Scrum

Black and White Gallery (Chelsea)
636 West 28th Street, Ground Floor, 212 244 3007
June 22 - July 29, 2006
Reception: Thursday, June 22, 7 - 9 PM
Web Site

Participating artists: Diana Al-Hadid, Kristopher Benedict, Jane Benson, Liset Castillo, Jessica Dickinson, Tom Fabritius, Andrew Guenther, Tommy Hartung, Kristian Kozul, Julian Montague, Will Ryman, Jackie Saccoccio

The scrum will collapse, recombine, and spill over into two gallery locations-both Chelsea and Williamsburg-yet the net effect will be a hushed refuge from both the cacophonous development on the West side of Manhattan and the ongoing turbo-gentrification of Williamsburg.

Quite simply, The Sanctuary and the Scrum asks, “In an age of rampant pluralism, instantly recognizable signature styles, and deeply personal autobiographical agendas, how is a curator to make a compelling case for a particular unifying theme or a totalizing commentary on our shared, though splintered zeitgeist?”

The short answer is that such a task is impossible and the best case scenario that any curator can hope for is to create an open playing field (the gallery), throw out the rule-book (save for accommodating space and light), and let the ensuing rumble begin.

In rugby, the term “scrum” describes two competing forwards, heads bent down and legs dug in, struggling for possession or dominance of the ball. Forwards, like artists, are drivers and their singular goal is to light up the scoreboard. To extend the metaphor, all group shows are in a way a competitive struggle, or “scrum,” where each artist attempts to assert his or her own unique aesthetic agenda. The artist’s mission in such collaborative scenarios is not just to create a compelling, “successful” piece or offer a generic example of a previously accredited work, but rather, to become a human highlight film, the go-to clip on that evening’s network news round-up. That is, after the final buzzer sounds, the points have been tallied and the fans have left the stadium, an artist would like you to forget the tiny nail-biting moments of suspense and have you focus solely on their own achievement.

In opposition to all this show-stealing, grandstanding, and public one-upsmanship, it is the curator’s job to tease out any cohesive strains among the various pieces. Imposing a quiet equilibrium or studied equipoise among all the pieces in the room is a way for the curator, acting as a referee, to police the “scrum.” In other words, to maintain an atmosphere of quiet reflection, penalty flags will be thrown for aggressively theatrical touchdown celebrations.

Curated by David Hunt
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