Brian Belott, Josh Blackwell, Rochelle Feinstein, Viktor Kopp, Miranda Lichtenstein, Mary Lum, Keiko Narahashi, Lizzie Scott, B Wurtz
Underemployed: fact and function
“The ancient historians gave us delightful fiction in the form of fact; the modern novelist presents us with dull facts under the guise of fiction.” -Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying: An Observation”
“function is excessive while frivolity is essential” -Lizzie Scott, “Styrene Fantastic Manifesto”
This exhibition was inspired by Oscar Wilde’s 1889 essay “The Decay of Lying: An Observation.” Wilde argues that art suffers when it is obliged to reflect and regurgitate reality. Forced to conform to arguments, ideas, and images that are currently circulating in the culture, art becomes “sterile and beauty will pass away from the land.” In the current era, it’s not difficult to find examples of this tendency. Culture wars, auction records, and spectacular art fairs frame discussions of art as salacious or mercenary. Meanwhile, high production values, provocative content and collaborative efforts are the well-worn pathways which mark artworks as luxurious, edgy, or politically aware. Wilde wrote his essay to protest an increasing demand for verisimilitude in the arts. Contemporary examples of this trend might include: the vogue for reality television, memoirs, and art as social practice. We look to art to confirm suspicions or settle scores; to reflect order back onto a world desperately attempting to see itself as orderly. But, as Wilde argues, art is not bound to fact or function, and the more it resists the pull of realism the better off it is.
Art doesn’t have to abide by the rules of reality - its logic is unique, even fantastical. Furthermore, it is suggested that in “lying” about the rules and laws that govern reality, certain truths are revealed that speak to who we are and how we conduct ourselves in a frenetic, pluralistic world. As Wilde says, “life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” The syntax of daily life is a recurring theme in much of the work here, but its logic has been scrambled, inverted, or refuted. In imagining an alternative reality, these artists are “liars” in the best sense of the term. They are transforming the familiar and rote into something remarkable and fantastic. Remarkable because we can still see the traces of reality despite their metamorphosis, and fantastic because the pedantic meanings of fact have been transcended.
Perhaps it’s stating the obvious to say that art has no practical function. Except that in practice we have a nasty habit of assigning a moral function to artworks. Museum education departments, grant applications, and senate subcommittees command artists to answer the question “what is your art for?” All too often they are looking for pat answers involving critiques of power, personal redemption, or popular entertainment. If great art imagines powerful and fabulous lies, why should artists be expected to rationalize their activities? I’m not arguing that artists shouldn’t be held accountable for their work; rather I am saying that if the moral disposition of art is all we choose to see perhaps we should reconsider what we are looking for when we look at art. All art is political, and in exploring topics such as waste, craft, and quotidian experience these artworks propose specific answers to the nebulous questions concerning art’s meaning and purpose. – Josh Blackwell
Brian Belott lives and works in New York, NY. He attended Cooper Union for his MFA but was thrown out in 1994. He then attended SVA and received his BFA in 1995. Belott’s selected solo shows include: in 2011, “Congo Guac” at Galerie Zürcher, Paris; in 2010, “The Joy of File” at Zürcher Studio, NY; in 2007, “Swirly Music” at CANADA, NY. His selected group exhibitions include: in 2011, “Go Figure” curated by Eddie Martinez at DODGEgallery, NY; in 2011, “Paper A-Z” at Sue Scott Gallery, NY; in 2010, “Salad Days” at The Journal, BK; in 2009, “The Living and the Dead” at Gavin Brown, NY; in 2008, “Book/Shelf” at MoMA, NY, among others. His work is a part of the Musuem of Modern Art’s permanent collection, and he has been reviewed in the NY Times and The New Yorker, Art in America among others.
Josh Blackwell lives and works in New York, NY. He received his MFA from California Institute of the Arts in 1999. Blackwell’s selected solo shows include: in 2010, “Juniors” at Kate MacGarry in London; in 2010, “Paper and Plastic” at John Trevis Gallery, Paris; in 2009, “Casual Dress Pants” at Rachel Uffner Gallery, NY. His selected group exhibitions include: in 2011, “A New Hook: Rethinking Needlework” at Museum Bellerive, Zurich; in 2011, “NY Art Book Fair Report” at PS1/ MoMA, NY; in 2010, “Material Issues and Other Matters” at CANADA, NY; in 2009, “Rock Garden” at Salon 94 Freemans, NY; in 2008, “Something from Nothing” curated by Dan Cameron at Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA. Blackwell’s work has been reviewed in the NY Times, Time Out NY, and the LA Times, among others.
Rochelle Feinstein lives and works in New York, NY. She received her BFA at Pratt in 1975, and her MFA at the University of Minnesota in 1978. Feinstein’s selected solo shows include: in 2011, “The Estate of Rochelle F.” at On Stellar Rays, NY; in 2009, “Made A Terrible Mistake” at LAB Space/Art Production Fund, NY; in 2008, “New Work” at Momenta Art, BK, NY; in 1996, “The Wonderfuls” at Jersey City Museum, NJ. Her selected group exhibitions include: in 2011, “Inti” at On Stellar Rays, NY; in 2010, “Desire” at Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX; in 2006, “181st Annual of Contemporary American Art” at National Academy Museum, NY; in 2004, “After Matisse/Picasso” at PS1 Contemporary Art Center, NY; in 2001, “Camera Works” at Marianne Boesky Gallery, NY. Feinstein’s work has been reviewed in the NY Times, Time Out NY, Art in America, and Artforum, among others.
Viktor Kopp was born in 1971 in Stockholm, Sweden and currently lives and works there. He studied at the Malmo Art Academy, Sweden, the Exchange Helsinki Art Academy, Finland, and the Domen Art School, Sweden. Kopp’s solo exhibitions include: in 2012, at Ribordy Contemporary, Geneva, Switzerland; in 2011, at Galleri Magnus Aklundh, Sweden; in 2010, at Bureau, NY. His group exhibitions include: in 2011, “Abstract and Traces” at Ribordy Contemporary, Geneva, Switzerland; in 2010, “Solid-State” at Bureau, NY; in 2010, “The Moderna Exhibition” Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; in 2007, “Assembly” at GAD, Oslo, Norway; in 2003, “Nya namn” at Malmo Konstmuseum, Malmo, Sweden.
Miranda Lichtenstein lives and works in New York, NY. She received her MFA from California Institute of the Arts in 1993, and her BA from Sarah Lawrence in 1990. Lichtenstein’s solo exhibitions include: in 2011, at The Suburban, Oak Park, IL; in 2010, at Elizabeth Dee, NY; in 2009, at Gallery Min Min, Tokyo; in 2006, “Miranda Lichtenstein” at The Hammer Museum, LA; in 2005/06, “The Searchers” (traveling exhibition) at Mary Goldman Gallery, LA, at Elizabeth Dee, NY, and at Gallery Min Min, Tokyo. Her selected group exhibitions include: in 2011, “Channel to the New Image” at Friedrich Petzel Gallery, NY; in 2011, “Involuntary” curated by Neville Wakefield, fordPROJECT, NY; in 2010, “Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance” at Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, NY; in 2007, “Currents: Recent Acquisitions” at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; in 2005, “Wish” at Center of Contemporary Art, Seattle, WA.
Lichtenstein’s work has been reviewed in Artforum, Art in America, LA Times, NY Times, and The New Yorker, among others.
Mary Lum lives and works in New York, NY. She received her MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology, NY and her BFA from the University of Michigan. Lum’s solo exhibitions include: in 2011, “Accidental Incident” at Carroll and Sons, Boston, MA; in 2011, at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA; in 2009, at Frederieke Taylor Gallery, NY; in 2004, at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; in 2001 & 1998, at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, Buffalo, NY. He group exhibitions include: in 2011, “The Workers, Contemporary Representations of Labor” at MassMoCA, North Adams, MA; in 2009, “Metropoles” at Jamaica Center from Art and Learning, Queens, NY; in 2008, “Breathing Space” at Galerie Susan Nielsen, Paris; in 2006, “Global Pop” at Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA; in 2000, “Selections: Fall 2000” at The Drawing Center, NY. Lum’s work has been reviewed in Art in America, Artforum, Arts Magazine, among others.
Keiko Narahashi lives and works in New York, NY. She received her MFA from Bard College in 1999, and her BFA from Parsons in 1988. Narahashi’s selected solo (or two person exhibitions) include: in 2011, “Keiko Narahashi and Joseph Pintz” curated by Marorie Vecchio and Namita Gupta Wiggers at Sheppard Gallery, U of Nevada, Reno, NV; in 2009, “Picturehood” at Hudson Franklin Gallery, NY; in 2007, “how long have I been sleeping?” at Hudson Franklin Gallery, NY. Her selected group exhibitions include: in 2011, “Surface Tension” curated by Andrea Meyers at Kuhn Gallery, Ohio State University; in 2010, “Shape Language” at Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, NY; in 2009, “Linked” curated by Jennifer Riley at Heskin Contemporary, NY; in 2003, “A notion in Time” at Dallas Center for Contemporary Art, TX; in 2000, “Good Business in the Best Art” at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY. Narahashi’s work has been reviewed in The Brooklyn Rail, The NY Times, and the New Yorker, among others.
Lizzie Scott lives and works in New York, NY. She received her MFA from California Institute of the Arts in 1998, and her BA from Brown University in 1993. Scott’s selected solo exhibitions include: in 2010, “Floating Island” at John Tevis Gallery, Paris; in 2007, “Window/Wall” Project at the Jersey City Museum, NJ; in 2006, “Windows & Bars” at LMAKprojects, Brooklyn, NY. Her selected group exhibitions include: in 2008, “Beyond Drawing: Constructed Realities” at Ohio University Art Gallery, OH; in 2004, “Open House: Working in Brooklyn” at The Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY. In 2004 Scott began developing performances in which people interact with her sculptures. Some of these occurred in 2009 at Prospect Park, BK and at Rachel Uffner Gallery, NY, and in 2006 under the Manhattan Bridge, to count a few. Scott’s works has been reviewed in Artforum, the NY Times, and Time Out NY, among others.
B Wurtz was born in Pasadena, California in 1948. He lives and works in New York, NY. Wurtz received his MFA from California Institute of the Arts in 1980, and his BA from the University of CA at Berkeley in 1970. His selected solo shows include: in 2011, at Metro Pictures, NY; in 2010, at the Apartment in Vancouver; in 2007 at Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles; in 2006/03/01/00 at Feature Inc, NY. His selected group exhibitions include: in 2011, “The 2011 Bridgehampton Biennial” organized by Bob Nickas at Martos Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY; in 2011, “Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell unlocks the MCA Collection” at Musuem of Contemporary Art, Chicago; in 2010, “Salad Days” at The Journal Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; in 2009, “Hello Goodbye Thank You, Again” curated by Anthony Huberman at Castillo/Corrales, Paris; in 2008, “Shit” at Feature Inc. NY; in 2006, “Dereconstruction” curated by Matthew Higgs at Barbara Gladstone Gallery, NY. Wurtz’s work has been reviewed in Modern Painters, the NY Times, Frieze, the Wall Street Journal, among others.