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Rubber Sheets


C.R.E.A.M. Projects
99 Franklin Street
August 1 - August 21, 2009
Reception: Saturday, August 1, 7 - 11 PM
Web Site

C.R.E.A.M. Projects is pleased to announce “Rubber Sheets”, a group exhibition guest-curated by artist Nicholas Knight. The show features work by Joianne Bittle, Alejandro Cesarco, Orly Cogan, Paul Jacobsen, Luisa Kazanas, Nina Katchadourian, Matt Keegan, Dan Mikesell, and Ian Pedigo. It will run from August 1 – August 21, 2009, in our store-front gallery at 99 Franklin Street, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. An opening reception will be held Saturday, August 1, from 7 – 11 pm.

The title “Rubber Sheets” refers to Albert Einstein’s metaphor that described his General Theory of Relativity: a very massive object actually distorts the space around it, as if it were a bowling ball sinking into a stretched rubber sheet. His new thought model, both mathematical and conceptual, was an attempt to grapple with the unresolved contradictions plaguing classical physics. Similarly, the artists in “Rubber Sheets” pinpoint the gaps in our collective concepts of nature and language, positioning their works right on the event horizon of our willful misunderstanding.

Furthermore, the rubber sheet itself is a metaphor we can apply to the work of these artists. Nature and language are complementary concepts, but they are fundamentally separated from each other, too. The membrane between them is not permeable like a sponge, but elastic like a rubber sheet. Ideas from one side can push into the space of the other, but they can never fully reside there.

Paul Jacobsen’s painting exploits our hopeful relationship with nature. The utopian illusion is made mechanical: mankind could achieve a more perfect union with nature by simply tweaking the gears of the machine a little. Add in more time with verdant landscapes and sunsets, the promise of perpetually ripe sexuality, and the byproducts of our sublimated desires will somehow take care of themselves.

Photographs by Orly Cogan also place the sexualized female directly into the natural world. But rather than give herself over to an inherited mythology, she is caught in a web of cultural constraints. She wears substitute facial features, clipped from fashion magazines and placed precariously, and preposterously, on her own, real, body. The images add up to a grotesque clash of two idealized and unattainable realms.

Luisa Kazanas dramatizes the psychological realities that penetrate into the very way we perceive nature. Forms are re-shaped by the encompassing effect that our minds place on all that is recognizable; in her monoprints and sculpture we see ourselves molding the image of nature to conform to our own changeable mental states.

Joianne Bittle exhibits a painting from her series No Man’s Land. Here we see a gnarly jackrabbit, set against a barren and reduced landscape, but boxed in by the edges of the canvas. Such a pose seems richly metaphorical. And yet, though we feel invited, we stare into its eyes and find not even a glint of recognition that our human condition could be mapped effectively onto this foreign body.

The flesh is made real, in a way, by Dan Mikesell’s robotic sculpture. Putting a sewn-prosciutto carapace on a scampering remote control robot may not be the reanimation that the Apostles, or Dr. Frankenstein, had in mind, but the visceral hilarity of this little fellow simultaneously fascinates and repels. What is it about ourselves that we recognize in the Meatbot? Everything?

Nina Katchadourian attempts a different type of transfiguration in her video, being shown in New York for the first time. Inserting gift-shop shark teeth into her own mouth, she channels the spirit of a vanished specimen, who, once given a voice, turns out to be somewhat less vicious than expected.

Ian Pedigo’s sculpture surfs across the surface detritus of cultural turnover. As if plowing the nutrient-rich compost back into fertile artistic soil, his sculptures present us with a form that seems so natural and inevitable that we are seduced into believing these re-purposed materials were always meant for only this one delicate blossom. A different register of language then emerges from his titles, which evoke the applied consensus of the social sciences.

Matt Keegan’s photographs circulate around the cut and the object excised. Text is present as a bridge between things unsaid. What belongs on either side of the conjunction? His collaged photograph transforms a simple home repair into a portrait of conflated memories, suggesting an urge to fill in the social void with something more primal and raw.

Alejandro Cesarco confronts head-on the absence at the core of language with his Footnotes. By removing the text that gives rise to a footnote, he throws into stark relief the fugitive nature of stimuli, and the frequent incomprehensibility of the ensuing response. Language may be a repository for memory, but it is also a sieve. And if language is this difficult to hold, how can we cling tight to the objects hidden on its dark side?

Nicholas Knight is an artist living in New York.
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