Yes, But…

Vik Muniz: Minotaur

An exhibition of keynote works by Vik Muniz and new works from Alexandra Mota de Aguiar, Mattias Ericsson, Wojtek Doroszuk, and Zhou Tao

Curated by Claudia Calirman


Wednesday, January 13, 2010 6–8 PM

DATES: January 14 – March 6, 2010

HOURS: Tuesday-Saturday 12–6 PM

Yes, But… explores works that dwell in the borderline between real and fictional, process-based and result-oriented, temporal and permanent, literal and metaphorical, orderly and undisciplined. Within the fabric of these works lies an array of artistic choices that emphasize contradictions and ambiguities, playing games upon the viewer at every turn.

Yes, But… features works by Vik Muniz (b. Brazil; works in New York) together with artists currently in residence at Location One: Alexandra Mota de Aguiar (b. Portugal), Wojtek Doroszuk (b. Poland), Mattias Ericsson (b. Sweden) and Zhou Tao (b. China).

Vik Muniz uses photography to create images from non-traditional materials. In series such as Pictures of Junk, he re-creates works by Great Masters, undermining the grandiose mythological aspect implied in the historical tableaux with his use of everyday discarded materials. His work usually involves strategies of appropriation–he sets out to create a copy of a copy, which, during the process of transformation, becomes a work by Vik Muniz. It is not only the artist’s materials that have a temporal quality to them; it is also the performative aspect of his works that call to mind issues of time and impermanence.

Working outside Rio de Janeiro in a space the size of a basketball court, the artist collaborates with residents from nearby favelas to remake a series of canonical images, directing his crew from a scaffold high above and then capturing the image through a large-format camera; the resulting works incorporate intriguing discrepancies of scale. In his process, what starts as a permanent object (usually a reproduction of a canonical work of art) becomes an impermanent installation made out of detritus, only to be turned again into a permanent work of art (a conventional gelatin-silver print). Repulsive or tasteful, visual or tactile—all these are choices are games played out in Muniz’s illusionist tableaux, leaving the viewer amused and complacent in being fooled and deceived.

Mattias Ericsson

In the installation September 2001 – March 2009, Mattias Ericsson’s hundreds of black-and-white photographs, which he carefully arranges into a formal grid, are all part of his ongoing work. Many of the images refer to the artist himself, his wife and child; others focus on the idyllic Swedish landscape in which Ericsson was born and still lives with his family. For this work, Ericsson chose images from his archive of thousands of photographs, then meticulously classified, sorted, and displayed them, trying to create order out of chaos.

In Mattias Ericsson’s video 1630 Photographs, the mundane also interferes in the supposedly grand narrative of the past seven years of the artist’s life. He recorded his voice for the video, creating a methodic narrative about the technical process of developing the film, making contact sheets and selecting photographs—a strikingly impersonal accompaniment to the intimate photos. There exists a tension between the work’s visuals and its narrative; the artist’s monotone voice is juxtaposed with his personal images, creating a disjunction between oral description and visual field. While the passage of time is registered in these intimate photographs (self-portraits, daily domestic interiors, family, friends, relatives, even time and aging…) his droning voice-over in a mantra-like rhythm renders these personal images from a distant place, as if subject and object were in reality two different beings, disconnected from each other.

Zhou Tao
Zhou Tao plays with notions of chance and everyday life subverting our understanding of the urban environment. In videos such as Obstacle, Power Here, Mutual Exercise, and East 6th Street to Location One he explores ordinary activities in public spaces.

In Obstacle, Zhou takes a stroll on a Sunday morning in the streets of his native Chinese city of Guangzhou, letting chance lead the way as he interacts with the many different elements that he encounters. Whether swimming in a public pool, scaling an electric pole, or simply just walking on the streets, there is always an element of civil disobedience involved in his actions. In Power Here, he turns on a fan, a loudspeaker, and a floor lamp using the city’s public electricity energy, exposing the lack of surveillance by official authorities. In Mutual Exercise, a collaboration with a friend, they walk the streets of Guangzhou, exploring new situations and creating connections out of randomness, as they encounter obstacles in their way. In East 6th Street to Location One, a collaborative work completed during the artist’s residency at Location One in New York, Zhou and a friend rely upon each other’s bodies to complete the trajectory from his home in the East Village to his studio in Soho.

Wojtek Doroszuk

In his humorous videos, Wojtek Doroszuk sarcastically comments on societal behavior. As an acute observer of social relations, his work deals with elements still considered taboo in society, such as transgender operations, the theatricality of death, and the exploitation of illegal workers. Weighty themes are rendered in a casual way, with Doroszuk acting like a passer-by, or a mere spectator blandly observing the situations around him, as if he could be left unaffected by the huge impact of these major transformative experiences. Special Features–which are the artist’s commentaries on some of his original projects–shows three different situations: Polish citizens collecting raspberries in a farm in Norway, a Turkish transgender man telling the story of changing his gender identity, and Polish employees working for a Turkish boss in Germany. In each of these narratives, there is an element of surprise–something that was expected to happen but somehow gets contradicted or denied. A great dream goes sour, a bad rumor gets buffered.

In Dissection Theatre, a woman lies in a morgue table being dressed and beautified for her burial. The careless and mundane attitute of the workers attending her corpse, contrasts with the sacredness of the situation. This mechanical act is indeed the funereal image of her last deadly appearance.

Alexandra Mota de Aguiar
Alexandra Mota de Aguiar works mainly with drawing remaining close to the expressive mechanisms explored among others by Phillip Guston and Francis Bacon. Using oil pastel, charcoal, graphite, and gouache, she approaches the creative process culminates in a wide range of hybrid organic forms. Part anthropomorphic and part just abstract marks in space, her figures carry strong gestural traces generating ambiguous narratives. These organic enigmatic forms occasionally even suggest erotic actions. Completely immersed in the process of image-making, Aguiar creates works that are in-between abstraction and figuration, alternately whimsical and poetic—and often humorous.

Yes, But… is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a group of international artists working in dramatically different practices but somehow all expressing the contradictions of contemporary daily life–its fragmented experiences, the desire to transgress the norm, the disappointment with stratified rules—and, ultimately, the bewilderment with the possibility of transformation.

After all, Yes, life is short, But…not necessarily small.

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