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International and National Projects: Joe Deutch, Stefan Eins, McKendree Key, Mark Lewis, David Maljkovic, and Senam Okudzeto

P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center
22-25 Jackson Avenue, 718-784-2084
Long Island City
February 11 - April 16, 2007
Web Site

International and National Projects presents the work of six artists as part of the same named P.S.1 program.

Joe Deutch’s -, A Cottage Industry is part of an on-going investigation into public acts and pictorial theater. Comprised of video, photographic, sculptural, and audio elements, the project presents different facets of a singular idea. On a plinth in the center of the room is the Alcoholics Anonymous bible known as The Big Book, surrounded by clandestine audio recordings of moral conflict, transgression and confession made during these ostensibly private and anonymous groups. In a projection on the opposite wall the artist is engaged in a series of performative gestures which test the limits of what constitutes socially acceptable public behavior and seek out the point at which moral sense and social justice intervene. Speaking in the language of public declaration and private consensus, Deutch’s photographs of signage call into question the larger assumptions underpinning this same moral economy. In all -, A Cottage Industry is a harsh interrogation of the right to speak when we have little or nothing to say.

Stefan Eins has been working in a variety of media including painting, collage, sculpture, and photography for over twenty years. For his project at P.S.1, Eins presents a suite of digital photographs investigating phenomena and coincidences in the urban environment. Central to his process is the incorporation of scientific research and the highlighting of objets trouvĂ©s (found objects) in New York City—what the artist refers to as a re-invention of Dada practice. Using a combination of images, maps, and texts written in English, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese – the four most widely-spoken languages – Eins documents encounters and findings that challenge accepted perceptions of the world.

McKendree Key’s investigation of unnecessary material waste connects her broad artistic practice, but is posed most aggressively in her installations. For her P.S.1 project, Key will create a site-specific installation that fragments the room into cubic yards with mason twine. The project continues an investigation of space that she initiated with her 2006 work Pier 17: Space # 2085 Divided into Cubic Yards, an installation which divided the space of a vacant sporting goods store in the South Street Seaport with spandex. Each installation is an interactive environment in which viewers are invited to physically negotiate the tensile composition. A seemingly incongruous element in her P.S.1 room is Key’s inclusion of several pieces of her own furniture. If Key’s division of the space into cubic yards nods to the system of measurement favored by New York City realtors, her employment of the gallery as a warehouse for the term of the exhibition conjures the grim narrative of gentrification’s rapid commoditization of space.

Mark Lewis’ films, through their attention to light, depth, color, and geometry, evoke pictorial tradition and suggest ways in which film can be said to reinvent it. For his project at P.S.1, Lewis presents Northumberland, shot in 2005 in the northeast of England. Consisting of a single uninterrupted tracking shot on super 16mm, this film moves slowly along an ancient moss-covered stone wall. Beyond a stark forest, the viewer catches a glimpse of a distant world. Over the course of the last decade, Lewis’ visual language has combined cinematic process with digital technologies. His time-based compositions are enigmatic, drawing on the tension between naturalism and abstraction, realism and theatricality.

David Maljkovic presents a tripartite video work, Scenes for a New Heritage, which focuses on Petrova Gora, a memorial to the victims of World War II that was built in Croatia between 1970 and 1981. Set in the future, specifically the years 2045 and 2063, the video investigates both the architecture of the monument, its historic implications, and societal memory. According to the artist, “My work is about the future, about collective amnesia, about what is going to happen and whether people are going to create a new heritage for themselves… Your moment is your heritage. I’d like to create a complete collective amnesia, which would open new possibilities for the museum of nothing, where you may bring anything you like.”

Senam Okudzeto’s wide-ranging practice incorporates performance, painting, and sculpture. At P.S.1, she will present, Portes-Oranges, an installation featuring metal sculptures used by Ghanaian fruit sellers to display oranges. Scattered across the gallery floor will be one thousand oranges accompanied by a video projection documenting the fruit sellers at work. This project is part of her on-going Ghana-Must-Go series which, according to the artist, “explores the concepts of `modernity, memory and material culture,’ using images of contemporary Africa as a point of departure to annotate a growing global awareness of social complexity.” Questioning the status of the art object in a manner reminiscent of Duchamp, Okudzeto’s recent work references the marketplace of art and food, raising questions about the politics of necessity (food) versus the politics of luxury (the art object). Engaging both the formal qualities and social aspects of the sculptures, Okudzeto addresses the role and function of art, global and local economics, and tourism.
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