Changing Light Bulbs In Thin Air brings together a constellation of work by nine artists. Using the book House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski to provide a framework for the exhibition, two directions explored are architectural representations of the mind and the deconstruction and reconstruction of text. House of Leaves is a winding tangent of a novel with multiple narrators intertwining and contradicting themselves while describing a journey into a paradoxical house in which the inner dimensions are larger than the outer. The book gains an ergodic dimension, meaning that the graphic design and layout of the text mirrors the narrative, i.e. when a character is running down a hallway there are fewer words on a page causing the reader to flip faster. Some of the works relate through their textual sources, optical and spatial illusion, recursive imagery, and graphic experimentation.
Tauba Auerbach’s Alphabetized Bible is the entirety of the bible alphabetized from cover text to interior punctuation. The new book is simultaneously recognized through its reverent gold-embossed lettering and familiar heft yet remains illogical for the reader. There is the sense that running the text through alphabetization as a sieve can reveal additional meaning. Similarly Brian Clifton’s work, The Meaning Field, presented here as a table-top installation with photographs and photocopies uses an existing language set, that of physics and the theory of relativity, to speak about the subjective. He postulates on a new theory on the formation of relationships between people and places. Starting from literature, Christian Andersson’s large-scale vitrine, Looking Backward, takes an exacting look at the novel Looking Backward (2000-1887) written by Edward Bellamy in 1887. It is a prophetic novel about a man who falls asleep to wake up 133 years in the future in his Boston home now a socialist utopia. The novel’s role is reexamined here through an empirical lens as a bright theatrical light glares at the book and its absent shadow.
The house in House of Leaves expands and contracts erratically according to the actions and emotions of the characters. This is then mirrored in the graphic layout of the text. Garth Weiser’s large-scale painting The 2009’s relates as an aggressive graphic breakdown while Matthew Sheridan Smith’s newspapers, Untitled, and Adam Putnam’s Untitled (headbox) present a recursive visual loop. Mungo Thomson’s Silent Film of a Tree Falling in the Forest portrays trees continually falling in the forest to the buzzing and clicking of the projector. Playing on the well-known aphorism “if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?” the 16mm film conveys a playful circular logic as it proves and then negates its own epistemological quandary. Finally, Zak Kitnick’s installation, The People Behind Our Products, mirrors each gallery space pulling the architecture outward with its deep recesses.
Part of the curator’s interest here is in the relationship between text and sculptural objects and the manners in which a written text can be unraveled structurally and what this deconstructed form allows to be seen. This interest is then filtered through conversations with the artists, several of who shared an interest in the book.
In a desire to relate back to the book more literally, the exhibition is accompanied by a butterfly fold booklet containing two additional projects. Uncertainty Mark presented by Carson Salter and Snowden Snowden calls for the return of ambiguity and play in punctuation. Their project includes a cd containing the described font, Helvetica Uncertain, available in the gallery while supplies last. This project is followed up by WL14/TC09 by Tyler Coburn in which he took the introduction to the MA written thesis which accompanies this exhibition and created a collaged manifesto/poem through a rule-based scrambling of the text. Finally, the photograph on the interior of the booklet is Nie Ma by Catherine Czacki. “Nie Ma” in polish loosely means it does not exist, we don’t have it, there is none, no more, or the end.
Christian Andersson lives in Malmo, Sweden and Berlin, Germany and his work has been included in exhibitions at Malmö Art Museum, Sweden; Moderna Museet, Sweden; Gävle art centre, Sweden; The Royal Hibernian Academy, Ireland; and at many international galleries. He has received numerous grants and residencies. Changing Light Bulbs In Thin Air is the artists first major New York showing.
Tauba Auerbach lives in San Francisco, California and her work has been included in exhibitions at the Wattis Institute of Contemporary Art, California; Museum Moderner Kust Stifftung Ludwig Wien, Austria; Deitch Projects, NY; and the Deste Foundation, Greece. She is the recent recipient of the SECA Art Award from SFMoMA and is currently preparing for an accompanying exhibition at the Museum.
Brian Clifton lives in Brooklyn, NY and his work has been in exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, MI; Commenwealth Gallery, MI; John Connelly Gallery, NY; Rental Gallery, NY; ad BC Project Room, NY.
Zachary Kitnick lives in Brooklyn, NY and his work has been included in exhibitions at Bard College, NY; Artists Space, NY; and Talman + Monroe, NY.
Runo Lagomarsino lives in Malmo, Sweden based artist and his work has been in included in exhibitions at Iaspis Gallery, Sweden; Malmo Museum, Sweden; Astrup Fearnley Museet, Sweden; and Bastadsgatan 4, Sweden. He is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program, 2008.
Adam Putnam lives in New York City and his work has been included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, CA; PS1 Contemporary Art Center, NY; Hessel Museum at Bard College, NY; Astrup Fearnley Museum for Modern Art, Sweden; Taxter and Spengeeman Gallery, NY; and Andrew Kreps Gallery, NY.
Matthew Sheridan Smith lives in Brooklyn, NY and his work has been included in exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao Spain; Andrew Kreps Gallery, NY; EAI, NY; Lisa Cooley Gallery, NY; and Gavin Brown, NY. His is currently preparing for a solo exhibition at Lisa Cooley Gallery, NY and a group exhibition at The Drawing Center, NY.
Mungo Thomson lives in Los Angeles, CA and Berlin, Germany and his work has been included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum, NY; Performa: Performing Arts Biennial 05, NY; UCLA Hammer Museum, CA; Royal Academy of Arts, London; and John Connelly Gallery, NY.
Garth Weiser lives in Brooklyn, NY and his work has been shown at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, NY; Artists Space, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago IL; Guild & Greyshkul, NY; and Casey Kaplan Gallery, NY.
Changing Light Bulbs in Thin Air is curated by Summer Guthery as part of the requirements for the master of arts degree in curatorial studies.
Student curated exhibitions at CCS Bard are made possible with support from the Rebecca and Martin Eisenberg Student Exhibition Fund; Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg; and the Patrons, Supporters, and Friends of the Center for Curatorial Studies. Special thanks to the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.