Historian Thomas Gallagher, writing in Paddy’s Lament: Prelude to Hatred, described the wave of land evictions that occurred during Ireland’s great famine. These evictions were ”...so legally impossible to prevent, that tenants whose homes were marked for destruction often helped to tear them down themselves on the promise that they would receive some gratuity for their labors.” This money almost never appeared.
In assembling a disparate collection of artists, many of whom explore Sisyphean tasks or the suggestion of inorganic fecundity that discarded urban objects hold, this re-curation is an attempt to own painful experiences of urban life, to tear the house down before anyone else can.
Eric Harvey Brown and Lori Baker compiled photos of hand-made signs that appeared on houses, refrigerators and boards after the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina began to recede. The privileging of urgency has a long tradition in photography, but all profits from the sale of their book of these images, Signs of Life, go to relief organizations still working in New Orleans.
Maxmilian Goldfarb’s installation couples transmissions from a police band radio scanner with video footage of discarded objects, suggesting a “fragmented narrative of infinite messages…a petrified superstructure of public grammar.” Recent press clippings from down the block from Gallery Aferro utilized the phrase “ceremonial demolition.” The object of this phrase was a bus shelter. Dozens of people now wait for the bus in the rain because of this phrase’s intentions towards a public structure.
Bradley Lucas Hyppa’s film, house (home) takes the site of the home within the location of the house, and finds conflicts between these seemingly congruent spaces. Hypnotic and vividly colored, the looping, jerking images suggest thermal surveillance filtered through loving memory.
Reuben Lorch-Miller has made flags, plaques, films, clothes and other conceptual objects that express an end-time worldview that somehow suggests abundant new possibilities. Writing about Lorch-Miller’s work, ArtForum’s Glen Helfend described a black hooded sweatshirt with the word “nowhere” embroidered on the front, which ”...taps into the popular sartorial trend of “shouting out” to one’s `hood, to one’s home, which in this case is a void.”
Sreshta Rit Premnath’s film A Thousand Apologies depicts the artist attempting to swim across a river while tied by a rope around his ankle to a large rock on the shore. Premnath has stated that his intention was to express that “The I is constructed through exclusion. The I is all that is not the Other.” Whether near rivers, as in the case of urban North Jersey, or far, the denizens of cities know this statement to be truth.
Similarly, selections from Christian Marc Schmidt’s, Adaptive Landscapes series depict “community fragments,” arranging the shapes of community space as existent chronologically in New York and Chicago. Usage and ownership are described by boundaries, by edges.
Frightening and hilarious, Pascual Sisto’s film takes an inanimate object potent with desire and power-the basketball-and creates a depopulated night world where space is dominated by a herd of them.