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ARTCAT

CALENDAR | HOSTING



Ron Amstutz, Right Roads and Wrong Ways

Wallspace Gallery
619 West 27th Street, ground floor, 212-594-9478
Chelsea
September 5 - October 11, 2008
Reception: Friday, September 5, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site


Wallspace is pleased to present Ron Amstutz’s first solo exhibition in New York. Right Roads and Wrong Ways is a video and photographic installation that represents the culmination of Amstutz’s nearly decade-long project of constructing and painting life-size sets that exist as stages for his idiosyncratic performances.

Amstutz’s work invokes different elements of experimental theater, choreography and performance art, with influences as diverse and far reaching as structural film, Bauhaus theater, performance work of the 60’s and 70’s, videogames and commercial studio photography.

The video component of Right Roads and Wrong Ways exists as a summation of layered performances that engage the viewer in a maze-like web of dead-ends, obstacles and mental games. The actions take place in a series of 7 different sets, which were constructed and painted using a fixed camera angle or multiple fixed angles. This approach essentially turns the monitor or screen into a stage, and the camera angle into a theatrical sight line. After the actions are completed, the set is repainted and the performance or performances are repeated. The same logic is followed while documenting the performances photographically. A photograph is made, the set repainted and the photograph meticulously restaged. This restaging or repetition becomes, in essence, a performative act.

Although the construction of the sets is methodical and controlled, this precision and restraint gives way to an instability and spontaneity that is inherently connected to the performance. In one section of the video, for example, Amstutz, crawling on all fours with rudimentary prosthetics strapped to his legs and arms, struggles to traverse a kaleidoscopic landscape. Reminiscent of the figures and props in Oskar Schlemmer’s mechanical ballets, Amstutz drags his body across shifting planes of abstract color. Both an exercise in duration and a study of the body under duress, the actions vacillate between the mundane and absurd. While Amstutz repeatedly slips and falls, the vertiginous shifts in perspective, color and orientation challenge assumed notions of weight, balance and figure-ground relationships. The sensory replaces the spatial, and movements, gestures and sound

While the video component emphasizes Amstutz’s physical form in motion, the photographs depict the body less as a corporeal entity and more as an architectural form or prop. In a selection of color images executed in a black and white set, Amstutz’s body (clad in a modular black and white costume of his own design) alternates between a mechanical and organic form, contorting into strenuous poses in an attempt to assimilate into the abstract patterns of the set. The sets’ harsh diagonals and geometric patterning interact with and interrupt the body, depriving the viewer of a complete, digestible form.

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