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Sarah Oppenheimer / R.H. Quaytman

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Momenta Art
359 Bedford Avenue, between S. 4th and S. 5th, 718-218-8058
Williamburg
October 29 - November 29, 2004
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Sarah Oppenheimer views the newspaper as a nomadic private space utilized within a public arena. Her project presented at Momenta, Field Study/Control, is an empirical investigation into the newspaper as both reading material and architectural screen. The first part of the project involved affixing a video camera to the ceiling of commuter trains in Japan, recording data regarding passengers reading newspapers. For the second part of the project, the artist rented a small office space in downtown Tokyo for two days, where the activity of anonymous test subjects was recorded. The results of Field Study/Control are presented on a pole-mounted laptops. The display mirrors the structure of the unfolded sheet, functioning as a folded screen that laterally divides the room. The work, including a formal and hypnotic assay of newspapers being folded, investigates how the built environment impacts human movement.

In the work of R.H. Quaytman, there is no purity within historical memory. The artist’s engagement with modernist painting grounds this concern, but its self-referential inner logic disintegrates as specific and personal narratives take over. Chapter 3: Optima takes as its starting point the optimism of modernist geometric painting, specifically the striped paintings of Polish artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski and Henryk Stazewski whose work Quaytman absorbed on a recent trip to Lodz, Poland. Yet the goal here is not mere homage, but to form a network of associations, as the paintings reference not just these prescient modernists but also an obsolescent typewriter and typesetting machine which are symbolically prophetic of other futures. As always Quaytman intersperses geometric and organic abstraction with photo-based silkscreens in order to generate contextual readings of individual paintings and to create what the artists calls, “Chapters” in an ongoing mediation on picturing. Ultimately the work addresses a kind of melancholy that the artist found in Lodz, the melancholy of an infinite network of connections leading to something which remains unspoken and thus free and available for “speculation.” Included is a photo of a gutted building outside the gallery, symbolizing the nexus of Polish/Jewish/ Textile industry/ Lodz/Williamsburg/Greenpoint.

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