CONTEXT My work reads as a reconciliation of opposites between the private and the public. In other words, it is a codified puzzle of images that continues to grow and develop, drawing from my personal experience as well as from the public domain. There is a distinct conversation taking place with the works of other artists from history and the present, with authors from the world of literature, film, music, philosophy, as well as with current geo-sociopolitical events. This I weave into stories, parables, mythic cautionary tales of sorts, making use of fragmented narratives that often provide a viewer the before and/or after of a story without ever fully revealing what actually took place. I give a viewer the task of navigating an elusive place where the complexities of interpersonal relationships, our human conditions, are placed as if on a stage and open to interpretation. My painted/drawn works are evolving into larger scale suites, intermingling objects and video in increasingly complex spaces. Cinematic in scope, this strategy allows me to experiment with non-linear narratives. Each small piece becomes a single word or phrase within a larger poem or book. Stories unfold; characters develop, things happen, as they do in works of literary fiction. More and more, there is an overlap in the symbols and stratagems I use, becoming extensions of one another instead of separate entities, signifiers in an increasingly interwoven codex.
CONTEXT In 2006’s The Failure of Knowing (Ambrosino Gallery). The installation was a still sequence where a sleeping person’s dreams became visible. I came to imagine a character, an obsessive artist, in the bed-ridden symbolic aftermath of creating 913 books one by one, page by page; each page drawn, scribbled, painted and written on. In this piece he or she has come to suspect that you, we, can never really know things; that the human condition is shaped by illusions, illogic, and a tragic need for order.
In 2008’s (NEGATIVE SPACE) (2020 Projects, Miami) I began branching out the meta narrative of my work (always underlying themes of The Human Condition filtered as a conversation with the sociopolitical factors of any given day,) This installation was conceived as an unravelling of a story derived from a painting. In this painting, dark paranormal and hermeneutic undertones guide the viewer more complexly into the headspace of the protagonists within the work. The viewer is given the task of solving a puzzle where the metaphysical properties of electricity, the transmutation of solids to fire, and notion that “nothing” can become “something”, are more than forensic clues for solving a mystery.
Continuing the novel that my larger body of work is becoming, 2009’s This is Nowhere (Hollywood Art & Culture Center) put the viewer into the role of watcher. This is Nowhere is a multimedia installation that shifts our regular vantage point and perspective making the viewer look down at a surrounding landscape, as if aloft. The viewer is placed neither here nor there: between floating photographs of clouds, a sectioned metropolis of buildings in the snow, and a painted island, where human dramas unfold and crowds gather to document events for unspecified reasons. A 14 minute looped video projected above and onto the small city cycles between night and day, mediating a dark urban cacophony with a ghostly wind in the blue sky.
This piece emphasized the vexing placeless-ness of our surroundings; This is Nowhere was a cautionary tale, a myth, or a parable. It imagined our human condition as a connection of relationships between us and the spaces we occupy without a central axis. The spinning world is adrift, and this installation attempted to find the precise center of Nowhere.
THE PROPOSAL The future of the work, what I am proposing to DV, will unite flat works and installation a step further. This will in turn unify the the abstract/symbolic elements with the representational and literal. For this installation I will develop a cosmology and its alternate universe. From this, the gallery space will reflect the cosmology of a parallel Earth: A miniature city, combined with a human-scale space like a small shelter, or room within the gallery space. As in a novel, there will be characters and protagonists, situations, etc, populating this parallel universe. A series of events from history will shape our understanding of the situations and characters presented on this parallel earth, details of which will take the form of drawing, photo,sculptural objects, text, and video.
I have several ideas for the installation’s physical framework: Initially, I plan on recreating some of the physical characteristics that are already found in my studio like the garage door’s metal runners, a shelf space that hangs from the ceiling, one of my work desks, and a file cabinet.
A section of the space will be filled with plants. The plants will be on layers of shelves with troughs below to capture the water run-off. Embedded within the plant soil will be chunks of dry watercolor pigment. As the exhibition-time passes, and the plants are watered, the pigment will spread and stain the environment immediately surrounding them. The plants will also be physically integrated into the rest of the installation, though I haven’t figured out how yet.
If I were to make a comparison of this piece to the work of other artists, it would exist as a cross between the obsessive organizations of Sarah Sze, the happenstance and uncertainty principles of Fischli & Weiss, and the encyclopedic subtext world of Marcel Broodthears.
There will be a file cabinet containing the images and texts that build up as my progress develops before the work is installed.This file cabinet will serve as a codex to the developing cosmology. It will be organized according to the aforementioned cosmology and accessible to viewers in the space, as well as small library of books working as footnotes to the piece.
The miniature city will be composed of sculptural tall/skinny buildings (like an icon of a building), and smaller non de-script structures. (see sketches for reference). The taller buildings will be embedded in trays filled with materials like concrete, plaster, dirt/mud, tar (asphaltum).These trays will form an interlocking grid, like large tiles on the gallery floor, that can be repositioned as necessary as the piece evolves.
Bringing select aspects of this (our) world into the space will be crucial for establishing a parallel cosmology/universe. Therefore, there may be a continuous connection via several couple of pieces: a continual link to “Chat-roulette” displayed on a small screen embedded within in a “glory hole: built into one of the structures in the space. Other possible internet connection ideas include: a webcam referencing our greatest common denominator, the vastness of space, with real-time video from a land-based telescope, or perhaps from a geostationary satellite monitoring the sun; maybe even connection to webcams trained on a revolving circuit of cities around from the globe. I may even install a cam in the DV space to provide a web presence for the piece, but I’m not yet sure about this it.
The installation will unfold throughout a period of 2 months. I plan on interacting with it, changing aspects of it as if turning pages in a book. Its shape will be in continuous flux: elements will come and go, things will be purposely broken and reassembled. Video pieces will be switched periodically to reflect an unfolding narrative. Geological time will speed up; papers and books will be burned; text panels will change or disappear altogether; plants will grow; water will accumulate and dry-up. Drawings and paintings will be displayed, moved, taken down, removed, switched. Though some days there will be no changes, a returning viewer will not likely see the space look the same twice.
I would like to have 2 or 3 events in the space during its exhibition period. These events would ideally change the shape of the piece. For example, I would like to to perform a lecture regarding the piece (not really a didactic lecture “about “ the piece, but a lecture that adds to the piece, that becomes part of the piece) During this lecture/performance, the piece will be furtherer transformed, though I cannot yet say how. The performance/ participatory aspect to the work is still under development. It’s a new dimension to my work that I can only elaborate on perfunctorily with minimal substance.
I plan to collaborate with an artist (perhaps two) on specific components for the installation. In fact, I may send instructions to, or assign a list of items for assembly by, other artists. The results will be integrated into aspects/components of the installation. At the end of the 2 month residency I will produce a limited edition catalog/book which will be available for sale. The catalog/book will serve not only as a document of the piece, but as an extension of it. Everything will be documented. From these documents I will continue to the next body of work, the next chapter of the book.
This may sound like a lot of clutter for such an intimate space, but my progress usually begins with many things which are gradually chipped away at, developed, built as models in the studio, and edited to the tune of “less is more”. If given the opportunity to execute this piece, I will need as much time as possible to develop the idea, and to begin building the different works. Therefore, if possible I would request that the exhibit be scheduled at minimum 16 to 18 months from the assumed (hoped-for...) acceptance of this proposal. The more distant, the better... If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Also, it should be noted that this proposal serves as an outline for the piece, and the final product may or may not reflect the sketches and text contained therein.