© Roman Signer
Agitation and Repose
Diana Al-Hadid, Rainer Ganahl, Via Lewandowsky, Jon McCafferty, Ragna Róbertsdóttir, Roman Signer, Claire Watkins, Holly Zausner
All of the works in this exhibition involve degrees of agitation, sometimes rendered subtly, and sometimes more overtly. While the exhibition does not directly address some of the overwhelming issues which make this such an anxious era - a grinding war, rising intimations of ecological upheaval, violence as a routine form of intercultural politics, economic travails - it is informed by them and by others; this is an agitated exhibition for an agitated time in which wavering hopefulness is accompanied by constant, nagging dread. However, each work in this exhibition also couples agitation with repose; there is quiescence in this commotion, grace and calm emerging from works and situations that are otherwise nervous and unruly.
The exhibition includes architectural sculptures, kinetic sculptures, sculptures as temporary events, video, film, and paintings. The curators were especially interested in vivid, highly idiosyncratic works that reveal highly idiosyncratic artistic sensibilities. The dialogues and correspondences that develop between these works, even, or perhaps especially, when they don't inhabit a similar terrain or share a related esthetic are equally important.
The exhibition brings together works by artists who have exhibited widely throughout the world, such as Roman Signer (Switzerland), Ragna Róbertsdóttir (Iceland), Via Lewandowsky (Germany), and Rainer Ganahl (Austria-America) and new works by American artists Holly Zausner, Jon McCafferty, Claire Watkins, and Diana Al-Hadid.
Downstairs, Roman Signer exhibits six videos of his signature sculptures-as-events, temporary (and oftentimes extremely brief), yet agitated and cathartic incidents that only come to the audience via video or photographic documentation. Ragna Róbertsdóttir's large-scale wall work comprised of thousands of lava chips collected at Iceland's volcanoes attests to nature's violent and transformative potential while revealing meditative and painterly repose. Diana Al-Hadid conflates the "heavenly" sounds of a pipe organ and a black hole in a seemingly restless yet soundless sculpture, vigorously launching mythology, sacred form, and liturgy into the space age. Rainer Ganahl's distressing video "The Apprentice in the Sun" shows one of his precarious bicycle rides performed against ferocious city traffic (this time in Bucharest), presented along with a neon work inspired by a Marcel Duchamp drawing with the same title.
Upstairs, Via Lewandowsky's whimsical sculpture of two "copulating" prefab houses evokes urban claustrophobia, conformity, and forced intimacy as acceptable forms of repose. The work was highly acclaimed in the recent exhibition of German art, "Reality Bites", at the Kemper Museum in St. Louis. In "Unseen", Holly Zausner's new 16mm film, the questing artist hurries through key locations and art sanctuaries in the city of Berlin attempting to find metaphorical space and literal rest for two dangling figurative rubber sculptures. Zausner's film recently debuted at the Bode Museum in Berlin. Jon McCafferty's multi-layered and tumultuous paintings of abstracted mountains suggest both geological and psychological commotion while subtly revealing composure and an inner logic of cause and effect. Claire Watkins's delicate kinetic wall sculptures recall tree branches but also nervous systems probing the architectural space. One moment they are tranquil filigrees of wires, but with a twitch they turn into "bundles of nerves."
"Agitation and Repose" is the 17th exhibition curated by New York-based Sabine Russ and Gregory Volk. Sabine Russ is Managing Editor at American Historical Publications and she also writes about contemporary art. Gregory Volk regularly contributes to "Art in America" and other publications, and is also an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of the Arts.
Exhibition: 26 June - 17 August 2007
Gallery hours: Tues-Sat 11 am - 6 pm
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
Gallery 1 & 2
521 West 21st Street
USA-New York, NY 10011
Telephone +212 414 4144
Fax +212 414 1535