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Sean Raspet, The ones we work for

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Daniel Reich Gallery
537 West 23rd Street, 212-924-4949
Chelsea
February 16 - March 22, 2008
Reception: Saturday, February 16, 6 - 8 PM
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Daniel Reich Gallery is pleased to present the debut solo exhibition of works by Sean Raspet entitled “The ones we work for.”

Gleaned from magazine clippings and historic sources, Raspet presents a vivid collection of images linked by formal and thematic similarities. Altogether Raspet’s front gallery installation includes 56 large-scale commercial banners (of the sort used to illustrate Banana Republic window displays) suspended by chain from the ceiling of the gallery. As a metaphor, the machine is central to “the ones we work for” and enlarged images of machines appear alternately monumental and monstrous. If there is something still mysterious and magical about the machine and its automatically moving parts, it is strongly felt in Raspet’s installation, the title of which has the weight of moral authority and critical judgment: “the ones we work for,” implying the power structure that we are subject to. And in that Raspet’s installation is an oppressive dimensional assemblage of found images in intricate configuration, it seems that “images” are the ones we work for. We work to serve and realize the representations we have invented and which have come to dwarf us. Circular headlights, gears, watches, propellers, rotary telephones abound in Raspet’s installation. Altogether Raspet’s big graphic images have an unexpectedly decorative and artificial quality as well as an odd design sensibility making his mixture disparate and disconcerting. For instance, classic documentary shots of child laborers from early in the century do little to dispel a sense of the somewhat creepy. In relation to pop art or to collage, Raspet’s installation emphasizes the hedonistic and consumptive side of the epicurean. This impression is furthered under the weighty graphic mass of images suspended from the ceiling which dance like a play of theater flats.

The commercial quality of the banners with their glossy plastic skin ads to what in Raspet’s work has always been a strong tension between the linear and the flat as articulated in photographic shadows and the exceptional nature of three dimensionality. While Raspet’s images seem to hang in a tremendous and playful quiet, they possess an eerie haunted aspect which is impossible to pin down or to dispel.

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