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Material for the Making


Elizabeth Dee Gallery
545 West 20th Street, 212-924-7545
January 6 - February 10, 2007
Reception: Saturday, January 6, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Mai Braun, Kori Newkirk, Gail Thacker, Kerry Tribe

Material for the Making brings together a selection of works that employ singular materials and medium specific devices for investigations into form, the translation of memory, and the reinterpretation of images and events. A commitment to materiality and an emphasis on tactility pervades much of the work presented in the front room of the gallery, while the back room is devoted to a filmic exploration of the seemingly inherent futility in objectively depicting one′s subjective reality. Gathered together, these works resist definitive statements about past or present and operate in an open-ended dialogue inflected with contingency and catalyst.

Mai Braun’s sculptures strike a delicate balance between form and formlessness, abstraction and representation. Described as experiments in a test-lab for proto-formalist sculpture, the work is made from a mixture of found materials − cardboard boxes, newspaper − and building supplies − tape, wood, and length of tubing − with evident immediacy and economy of means. Her recent work locates particular images of destruction as points of departure for the making of new three−dimensional objects. The resultant sculpture takes on a life of its own through the process of its making and the formal accidents that happen along the way, distorting its referent while creating a symbiotic relationship between the image that inspired it and the form that follows after.

In Kori Newkirk’s pomade paintings, personal history, identity politics, and formal elegance all converge on the gallery walls. Immediately identifiable by its scent, Newkirk′s medium resists further specificity as it becomes the means for the creation of manifestly present yet materially ephemeral depictions of childhood memories and personal signifiers. For this exhibition, Newkirk will resuscitate the shape that appeared in his first pomade paintings − a snowflake. Rendered in black, in homage of their final appearance, the snowflakes will flutter and fall across the gallery walls as markers of a presence already gone.

Gail Thacker′s work explores the slippery role that photography plays in the narratives we construct about and around our lives. Photographs have the striking capacity to both support and distort the memories we carry of formative events. Acknowledging this contradiction, Thacker undermines the mimetic stability of the photographic image through a distinct curing process − coating of the unfixed Polaroid surface with a range of substances that are left to fester and mold. With time, the images warp, disintegrate, and dissolve into silvery surfaces and obscured forms, engendering a physical and visual correlation to the instability of the photographic marker. In Shaving Cream Series (1997), comprised of over 50 Polaroid photographs, Thacker captures performance artist Rafael Sanchez covered in shaving cream, reveling in a surrealist setting composed of absurdist props constructed by both artists. Describing Thacker′s process as an intervention in the ′pataphysical sense, Carol Schwarzman elucidates a core aspect of Thacker′s practice: while metaphysics is the anti of simulation (opposing fantasy with ever more reality), ′pataphysics is the ante of simulation (opposing fantasy with ever more fantasy).

Kerry Tribe employs the mediums of film and video for her extended exploration into perception, coincidence, and the phenomenology of memory. In Near Miss (2005), the second in a trilogy of related works, Tribe attempts to recreate the specific experience of an undocumented event witnessed only by the artist more than a decade ago. Over the course of three nearly identical cinematic takes, Tribe presents what appears to be a car′s spinout in a snowstorm. Each take is accompanied by a unique soundtrack, which slightly alters the perception and experience of the event as it unfolds. Two other components − a photograph of the car used in the production and an interpretive text of the event written by one of the films crew − further relate the distance between the real and the represented that can never be reconciled.
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