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Jennie C. Jones, The Walkman Compositions

Smack Mellon
92 Plymouth Street, corner of Washington, 718-834-8761
January 17 - February 22, 2009
Reception: Saturday, January 17, 5 - 8 PM
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This series of collage and ink on paper deconstructs the first mass-produced personal stereo listening device, the Walkman, reducing its design to sparse formal elements. Focusing on WM designs manufactured between 1981-1986, the work hearkens back to the visual ideology of Bauhaus, a German school of design founded by Walter Gropius in 1919, that addressed fundamental questions of craftsmanship vs. mass production and the practical purpose of formal beauty in commonplace objects. Other innovations commonly associated with the Bauhaus include the use of radically simplified form and the idea that the machine is reconcilable with individual artistic spirit. But what of the narrowing space between design, desire, and consumption, not to mention the cultural weight associated with the musical content played on such a device or the ability to ‘curate’, particularly in the age of the iPod?

The title Walkman Composition functions as a double entendre. I will also present Suite for Cassette, Flute and Percussion which uses the “auto reverse” or direction button on a Walkman, to create an audio work that lavishes in the crude sound of transitions of sides A and B. The source for this piece is the 1969 Elvin Jones (no relation) LP “Poly-Currents” reissued on cassette tape in 1985, the same year as the WM-24, on which my sound piece was created. Presented on flat panel speakers, the sound piece inserts black modernist history into the aforementioned conversation, linking early avant-garde art aesthetics with those of ‘hard bop’ and the deconstructionist style of jazz drummer Elvin Jones. The installation also includes small objects. These works are a commemoration of the tangible aspects of how we listen to music, presenting cassette liner notes made from hand brushed aluminum as well as works made from empty cassette cases and titled after the recordings they once contained.

Jennie C. Jones, born in 1968 in Cincinnati Ohio, currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Jones attended Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts where she received her MFA in 1996. Prior to that she attended The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, receiving a BFA in 1991, with Fellowship. Over the past decade she has participated in numerous prestigious artists residency and fellowship programs, both nationally and international, including: Cité Internationale des Arts-Paris, France (2002-2003), The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Residency at the World Trade Center (1999) and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (1996). In 2008 she was a fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Study Center as well as a Visiting Artist at The American Academy in Rome, Italy. Her awards include a Creative Capital grant in 2008, The Rema Hort Mann Foundation Award, in 2006, and a Pollock-Krasner Grant in 2000. Her upcoming shows include the exhibition This-Has-Been, at On Stellar Rays Gallery, NY, NY (opening February 17), State of the Art: New York at Urbis in Manchester, UK. (April 09), as well as the exhibition With Gratitude: Contemporary Artists Address Influence at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Madison, WI. (September 2009). She has works in the prestigious Deutsche Bank collection, Artists Pension Trust and in the collection of the law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

This exhibition is made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and with generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Greenwall Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Eve Sussman and Smack Mellon’s Members. Smack Mellon also receives generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, City Council Member David Yassky and the New York City Council, Bloomberg, Brooklyn Arts Council JPMorgan Chase Regrant Program, Fifth Floor Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Goldman, Sachs & Co., The Greenwich Collection Ltd., Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, Independence Community Foundation, Jean and Louis Dreyfus Foundation, Inc., Judith and Donald Rechler Foundation Inc., Lily Auchincloss Foundation Inc., Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation Inc., The New York Community Trust, The Pinkerton Foundation, The Robert Lehman Foundation, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, Inc., The Starry Night Fund of Tides Foundation, The Roy and Niuta Titus Foundation, Inc., and William Talbott Hillman Foundation.
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