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Under Foundations: Group exhibition opens at SculptureCenter
Alexandra Lerman and Madeline Hollander, Memory Negative, 2014. Digital photograph. Courtesy the artists.


LONH ISLAND CITY, NY.- SculptureCenter announces Under Foundations, an exhibition presented through In Practice, SculptureCenter’s commissioning program for emerging artists. Situated in the building’s lower level, the works in Under Foundations share an interest in what lies beneath the surface—the repressed, the discarded, the roots, or the source. Many of these works speak to unconscious desires, while others seek to trace, discover, and examine the past. The exhibition evokes a storage space of forsaken objects, full of stories and revelations. Together, these works incorporate a variety of disciplines—psychoanalysis, behavioral science, economics, and affect theory—and the impulse, act, and process of making are integral parts of a search for the elusive origins of the creative endeavor. They look to psychological states, everyday movements and behaviors, art historical touchstones, and deep-seated desires as points of departure.

For these artists, the desire to locate the fountainhead of the creative idea still compels despite history’s failed attempts to fix a starting point. Each project is undertaken with the understanding that the start of something is also usually the end of something else, and only comprehensible in relation to what came before and after. The works in Under Foundations are deeply embedded within histories of production, circulation, and reception, which make their own claims of cause and effect. Under such circumstances the search for an origin becomes circular, enchanting, and at times dizzying: a spiral. The process of making folds into itself, reverberating with previous steps and historical precedents. This search for a source in the face of futility is an attempt to create meaning on the constantly shifting ground that is our contemporary world.

An unearthing of the origins of making is undertaken by these artists through a variety of approaches. Several artists undermine traditional notions of creative authorship: Sol Hashemi embraces open source and collectively and anonymously authored modding communities—creators of modified content, often shared via the web—and Madeline Hollander and Alexandra Lerman appropriate copyrighted movement, rejecting intellectual property claims. Catherine Czacki’s subtly altered readymades—often paired with texts about their retrievals—trouble the division between found and made, suggesting that art begins with its reception by a viewer. Others plumb the politics of production: Mary Walling Blackburn’s baroque process of commissioning highlights differential power relations among the involved individuals and institutions, and Xu Wang’s re-carving of classical-style sculpture made in China for a Western audience divulges art's place in the global economy. Nanna Debois Buhl, on the other hand, maps the former industrial neighborhood of Long Island City with the obsolescing technology of cyanotype photography in homage to the first woman photographer. The work of Aiello and Iglesias engages with the abundance of circulating representations in the world, eschewing claims to originality. Rosa Aiello’s otherworldly computer generated animations are born of sophisticated logarithms and a powerful silicon chip, yet exude a thoroughly somatic experience, while Janelle Iglesias reveals the fluidity and heterogeneity of form undermining the idea of any essential, primordial, or most ‘true’ form of the arch. Ben Hagari playfully dramatizes the romanticized narrative of the artist’s journey of physical, psychological, and existential struggles, whereas Ryan Johnson’s compressed-space sculptures, reminiscent of Modernism, suggest being outside of one's own time as a productive start to making.






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