Daniel Reich Gallery is pleased to present The Way Things Are, a debut exhibition of works by Sean Raspet and Arnd Seibert.
For Raspet, “neutrality” itself is significant in its implication of the blank slate or a tabula rasa presumed to be inherent in representation, in that (to depict something “truthfully” is to depict it ‘as it is’, presumably without ideological bias). Switzerland’s neutral status becomes a complex touchstone in Raspet’s work in relation to notions of the symbolic and the real. Raspet’s work draws from a preoccupation with an item and those traits inherent to it; he articulates this source into a ‘parody of existence’. Indeed this preoccupation harkens back to antiquated notions of phenomenology in German metaphysics, as well as other lofty, but discarded philosophical systems of the past which are often capriciously adopted by Raspet to be applied to an arrangement of present day items. These systems themselves become yet another item in a vast panoply of assemblage.
Raspet’s sculptures present arrangements of objects, typically on a neutral black background that references the notion of a void. In these arrangements, the objects reveal the strangeness of the process of their depiction and preservation. Small bronze objects, for example are encased in cubes of hair gel, which suspends the resulting patina that then radiates from the object, giving it an aura-like glow. However there is a perverse nature to distillation that transcends the represented object itself. Ultimately, the work reveals the metaphysical manner of our thinking about the world in the present age of late-capitalist image culture.
Seibert’s work draws from popular culture and the global industries which support it-not as a political, societal critique or an egalitarian adoption of so-called kitsch aesthetics-but as a source of material for creating works that reveal only the appearance of order, meaning, and truth. Purely functional patterns for stacking boxes efficiently on wooden shipping pallets become dumbly aestheticized, posing as vaguely trendy minimalist-inspired works in another reference to an outmoded order: this time, the phenomenological order of 60’s Minimal art. His canvases with overtly decorative, flocked and garish wallpaper applied in geometrical shapes parody our attempts to order or control space by filling it with decoration. By combining the image of a ridiculous looking little bale of wheat with ideas of the euphemistically ‘XX Large,’ Seibert references the failure of aspiration, language, and cultural production to ever produce anything real.
In this context, small formal inconsistencies in the works, like bubbles or imperfections, become references to a kind of unavoidable failure or decrepitude. The work itself becomes a cliche about the state of creativity today, maybe one like, ‘It’s good enough for government work.’ Or, as Seibert’s German father says, in a misquote of an American commonplace: “Keep it simply stupid.” In what could be seen as a joking commentary on American brevity and efficiency, the simplicity in Seibert’s work tends not towards the poetic but towards the self consciously idiotic.
Sean Raspet, born in Washington D.C, lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and is currently enrolled in the Whitney Independent Study Program.
Arnd Seibert, born in Dusseldorf, Germany, lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of Bowdoin College in Maine. This is his first major New York exhibition.