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The Leisure Suite


LeRoy Neiman Gallery, Columbia University
310 Dodge Hall, 116th Street & Broadway, 212-854-4065
January 24 - February 14, 2008
Reception: Thursday, January 24, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Colby Bird, Erik Blinderman, Beth Campbell, Keren Cytter, Tim Davis, Kate Gilmore, Matt Keegan, Ben Turner, Friedrich Kunath, Divya Mehra, Dane Mitchell, Oliver Pietsch, Tom Sanford, Michael Schmelling.

Curated by Martin Basher

The LeRoy Neiman at Columbia University is pleased to announce a group exhibition of work from a diverse group of 14 artists, who have roots in New Zealand, the United States, Germany, Israel, and Canada. Their varying practices all touch upon the zeitgeist of life in an age of material wealth and ample leisure time, where the means of modern life, largely free of hand-to-mouth existence, allow one to question and examine the basic premises of work, leisure, and domesticity.

From the intrusion of strip-mall America implicit in Tim Davis’s night photographs of big-box logos reflected in the windows of houses, to Friedrich Kunath’s uneasily redemptive image of a plane flying into a sunset bearing the words ‘your problems’ scrawled up its side, the artists in the exhibition tackle life in a time when a sense of uncertainty prevails, where individuality reigns, politics are fraught, and where struggle, in a great or collective sense, is lost. The great strides achieved by the left in emancipating the working classes have, ironically, de-fanged the movement; the workers are no longer hungry. There is wealth, but the politicians are no longer to be trusted, the church is no longer a locus, the food is no longer healthy, other people are no longer your ‘fellow man’. Modern society’s success seems to be creating the scene for its downfall. In this context, the questions that one might infer from the work in this exhibition are first to ask what exactly is life for, being that it is not a struggle for survival? And second, given the relative prosperity and ease of the western middle class life, how should one live it?

These questions are posed but not answered. Yet the conversation is rich and the possibilities are most certainly productive. In the photographs of meticulously constructed duplicate bedrooms by Beth Campbell, the self skewering lampoon of Divya Mehra’s image of W.A.S.P. leisure time, in the surveillance shots of people dropping in and out of the exclusive Amsterdam store ‘Society’ by Erik Blinderman, and in all the work in this exhibition, there is doubt and hope, moments of malaise and redemption, irony, sincerity, and a wholehearted address of the conditions of work and play in contemporary life. An arrangement of possibilities, and thus a suite of possibilities – The Leisure Suite.

The LeRoy Neiman Gallery shows primarily contemporary art in the context of one of the world’s leading academic art institutions – the Columbia University School of the Arts. Exhibitions feature work by current Columbia students, alumns, and other emerging and leading practitioners of contemporary art worldwide, and run during the academic year.
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