Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Sum and All Parts

This is the last weekend to check out The Sum and All Parts...a group show at a temporary space @427 Manhattan Ave./Bayard St in Brooklyn. It is really a smart show with a great mix of works. Stop by the closing part on Saturday night, from 8-12.

I did an interview with the curators Beau Rutland and Jenny Borland. See it below:

JL: I’m interested in the generation of The Sum and All Parts…I like the idea of a focus on multiple/serial imagery in a contemporary context, but it seems like you are also going for something more…

JB, BR: We wanted to put on a show where the work was accessible – not just in terms of affordability, but accessible in the sense that it could be understood and enjoyed by many different people in different ways. So, the original concept of the show, the idea of multiples, stemmed from this interest. We also wanted to avoid the presentation of artwork as "precious" or catering towards an art-market sensibility.

LeRoy Stevens, 2009, Favorite Recorded Scream, LP and poster, ed. of 500

JL: It seems like you have made a conscious effort to include a wide variety of media in the show…did you choose the works more based on personal inclination/taste or based on supporting the theme?

JB, BR: The work for the show was chosen fairly organically from a combination of both (personal taste and the theme) but we made it clear from the start that the artists would be given freedom to explore the concept set out to them and allow for their work to evolve over several attempts. Exploring the concept of multiples through a variety of media was only natural and appropriate.

David Rothenberg, 2005, Pointers I, II, III, DVD loop, LCD monitor, ed. of 10

JL: Do you think contemporary artists are increasingly interested in dissection or diminution of a subject?

JB, BR: Yes, and this idea was definitely useful while considering work for the show. To try and demonstrate both ends in our show, David Rothenberg’s Pointers series and Lanya Snyder’s Contact... series each deal with photography and imagery and methods of display, but on quite different terms. In David’s digital video loops, made from found 16mm footage, the hunting dogs appear strangely motionless against a moving background, deliberately framed by monitors and mimicking a static image – it forces the viewer to focus within the context of this frame. In Lanya’s work, the act of displaying photography is essentially broken down in itself.

Lanya Snyder, 2009, Contact 41, Contact 42, Contact 43, Contact 44, 38 c-prints, dimensions variable

JL: How do some of these artists move beyond what has been done with multiples in the past?

JB, BR: From the Bird’s Mouth by LeRoy Stevens is a good example of an artist going beyond what has been done with multiples in the past. It breaks down the idolization of one work, and spreads attention to all its encompassing parts – photographs, a film, a large-scale magnifying lens, and a sculpture- they become “art” unto themselves. In turn each piece can function as its own entity.

JL: I really enjoy how you have stretched the notion of a multiple…how does a work like Economics 101 by Boris Rasin and Kenny Komer fit?

JB, BR: Economics 101 kind of turns the tables on Gonzalez-Torres and ‘generosity.’ By taking a whole dollar bill and returning it to the viewer shredded, it works backwards from the way the take-away operates. It is endlessly engaging in the sense that it affects a possession of your own, leaving its mark for you to consider. We see it as displaying a Xerox machine for the viewer to press ‘copy’ instead of just showing the print produced for visitor to mindlessly take.

Kenny Komer & Boris Rasin, 2009, Economics 101 (detail), mixed media

JL: Are there particular artists that provided a conceptual backdrop for the show?

JB, BR: Absolutely – while working in the beginning stages on the show we thought a great deal about Allan Kaprow and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who may not typically be paired together but we feel like their work has a similar spirit - the ideas of “art as life,” art that doesn’t have to be confined to a gallery space, or art that can be removed from conventions of display. In this current atmosphere it seems that a number of artists are returning to those notions of conceptual art of the 70s and 80s and seeking something a bit more authentic. In our show, a work like LeRoy Stevens’ Favorite Recorded Screams stems from this type of thinking: operating within the community (not just the gallery) to reach a certain end, and gives back in the process. The project is a collection of New York record shop employees’ favorite scream on a song, meticulously compiled over a period of 6 months or so. LeRoy then pressed vinyl records of the screams and plans to redistribute a few to each store.

JL: Do you see connections between some of these artists and those of the late 70s/ early 80s?

JB, BR: Another conceptual influence was Brian O’Doherty’s Inside the White Cube text, dealing with methods of display and the function of the gallery for both the artist and viewer. We felt like the space itself was equally important to how the show operated, and knew from the start that we wanted something unconventional. The space we found has a number of distractions and flaws, but in this sense offers possibility for site specificity and adds a kind of performative element, allowing for a different kind of interaction with the work.

JL: Is there another show in the works for you guys?

JB, BR: Hopefully! We’ll both be returning back to school in the fall, but still want to be involved in projects like this. It’s fantastic that temporary shows and spaces – and curatorial endeavors like Apartment Show and your Daily Operation – are popping up everywhere, we feel it really was time for a change in that direction.

first 4 pics:
Boris Rasin, Boom, 2008 (ongoing), acrylic on wood, 10 parts, dimensions variable; Jaime Gecker, Bugaloos, Polaroid collage on plexi, 12 parts, 5" x 5" each
LeRoy Stevens, 2009, From the Bird’s Mouth, DVD loop, lens with frame, melted coins, 2 c-prints
Lanya Snyder, 2009, Contact 41, Contact 42, Contact 43, Contact 44, 38 c-prints, dimensions variable; Kenny Komer, One, 2009, inkjet print (on left), 40" x 45"; Kenny Komer, Two, 2009, inkjet print (on right), 40" x 45"
Kenny Komer & Boris Rasin, Economics 101, 2009, mixed media


  1. AnonymousJuly 29, 2009

    Hey, my earlier wordy comment seems to have vaporized, but I just though it was interesting how the term "authentic" seems to have mutated from the individual/expressive implications of the 40s and 50s to imply -- in the context of the interview above -- a more social and perhaps politicized space and experience. I've never heard it used in that way, and I suspect the word itself has been viewed with skepticism since probably the 60s. So it's nice to have it back, in a new way. (not that I was around in the 50s or 60s or. . . .)

  2. that's a good point. such an important thing with a lot of modernist baggage. i think it's refreshing to see "authentic" used in that way. kind of hopeful, though it might dash the hopes of some in art school still going for the personal and expressive.

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