NEW YORK, N.Y.- James Cohan Gallery
presents OBJECT FICTIONS, a group exhibition curated by Jessica Lin Cox and Elyse Goldberg, opening on January 6 and running through February 11, 2012. The exhibition includes work by Helene Appel, Richard Artschwager, Talia Chetrit, Patricia Dauder, Harrell Fletcher, Tom Friedman, Noriko Furunishi, Robert Gober, International Necronautical Society (INS), Matt Johnson, Louise Lawler, Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins, Allan McCollum, Kaz Oshiro, Trevor Paglen, Roxy Paine, Katie Paterson, and Alison Elizabeth Taylor.
OBJECT FICTIONS assembles a diverse group of artists whose works investigate notions of perception, in its many definitions. Through a variety of media and processes, these artists explore the potential of ordinary objects, historical events, invented narratives and in some cases even other artworks, to expose reality through the lens of fiction. Through sustained looking, the works in this exhibition challenge us to consider what constitutes an object, an image, and in the broadest sense, what constitutes truth.
In her exquisite paintings on raw linen, such as Chopped Leek (2011), Helene Appel focuses her minimalist version of trompe loeil on often overlooked common objects, elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary. In a recent essay on Appel, Anna-Catharina Gebbers states: Her subjects have already been accessories to the performances of the everyday; the chopping of onions, the sweeping up of crumbs. Now, placed on the canvas, the things can act to reveal themselves. In Appels work, it is the careful, painstaking process of crafting the fiction of the object which reveals the intricacies and depth of dimension contained within the object itself.
Kaz Oshiro and Alison Elizabeth Taylor also employ the ideas and methods of trompe loeil in innovative ways. In her recent body of work, Taylor makes paradoxical use of fine materials to carefully reproduce vignettes from the disintegrating foreclosed homes found in her home state of Nevada. The marquetry floor piece she created for this exhibition, Armstrong Congoleum (2011), suggests the illusion of layers of vinyl flooring peeling back in disrepair yet is in fact meticulously composed entirely of wood veneer. Similarly, Oshiros Untitled Painting, Upholstery (black / diamond with vertical trim, black and silver duct tape) (2011) might first present itself as a vintage car seat cushion, complete with an improvised repaired edge after years of use. Yet upon closer inspection, the object subverts the viewers expectations with the discovery that it is in fact a painting. As Christina Valentine has observed of Oshiros work, The idea of the doppelganger, a ghostly double that haunts the physical object, serves as an easy metaphor to define the semiotic theft and switching of signs.
This moment of subversion and the sudden shift in perception is an important conceit for many works in the exhibition. Patricia Dauders 16mm film, March 5th, 1979 (2011), portrays luminous phenomena in the Canary Islands long-rumored to be extraterrestrial in origin until they were recently revealed to be the result of ballistic missiles launched from US Navy submarines. Noriko Furunishi creates mysterious vertical landscapes recalling Chinese and Japanese traditional hanging scrolls, which upon further examination are actually collaged images taken from multiple points of view.
Matt Johnson and Robert Gober are renowned for creating works that thwart our expectations of the objects they appear to resemble. Gobers X Playpen (1987) references a familiar domestic object known to promise security, but has instead been drastically changed to amplify latent anxieties about childhood and the home. Johnsons Mother and Child (2011) wryly plays with the sanctity of representing these revered religious figures in art history, transforming Mary and the infant Jesus into a duct-tape sculpture cast in stainless steel.
Appropriation, assumed authorship and invented narrative are the subject of selected works by Harrell Fletcher, Louise Lawler, Trevor Paglen, and the International Necronautical Society. Fletchers video, Robert Smithson: The Hotel Palenque (2011), is a video-based appropriation of Smithsons often referenced lecture from 1969, which Fletcher filmed from the pages of Parkett magazine where the text of the lecture was first reproduced. Also on display is an authorized copy of Calling All Agents: Transmission, Death, Technology, General Secretarys Report to the International Necronautical Society (2011), a document of the fictive society founded by Tom McCarthy in 1999. Though operating as a fiction, the International Necronautical Society nevertheless creates a space for discourse and interventions in art and culture through publications, lectures and other public forums.