You Made Me, Sewing (2009)
My current project is focused on inhabiting and expressing the emotional spaces of the body. I am particularly interested in articulating hidden or unresolved experiences that have followed me throughout my life. My work explores the idea of the body as an autonomous figure that may or may not betray its spiritual inhabitant. We blush, we stammer, we trip and fall. Our skin may split and let loose our insides for all the world to see- so embarrassing. My work is often humorous or absurd because it is this humor that allows a swift entry to a darker more emotional place. My work process begins with the production of animations and videos that depict a simple action or event. My videos are generally non-narrative, but as a whole they create a kind of broad self-portrait. The videos are then displayed as projected installations within sculptural structures or they are turned into series of still images.
Cops And Underwear (2009)
My work both glorifies and challenges the notion of the “heroic” as it has been defined in the last half-century of American painting. In the context of the 21st century, I explore whether it is possible to be simultaneously heroic and humorous.
The forms I create exist as if suddenly locked within their given spaces; therefore they must make the most of their limited options for movement within their frames.
Beijing Cotton Candy (2009)
Moment of Doubt (2008)
My work is a way of bearing witness, even to things I don’t understand. I’m unable to believe in miracles, yet I long for them. Faith and doubt intermingle in my work and sometimes find common ground. I am in pursuit of an art anchored in the contradictions and harmonies of my daily experience of banality, majesty, absurdity, and confusion.
Little Death (2010)
You’d Be Home By Now (2009)
The framework and visual language of the urban and social fabric is continually being torn down and re-erected, histories are rewritten. In my work I attempt to find poetic moments that examine light, decay, transformations, simultaneous layers, and a maze of relationships of binding and connecting fragments. Each piece is an investigation or excavation letting the space around the work lead its development. Subtly manipulated construction/found materials become my sculptures through hording, collecting, grouping, organizing, and sectioning. Within the large scale of the work, there are small gestures which ask the viewer to get close: a fake shadow, a remnant of old wallpaper, things hidden behind leaning walls. Together these elements build a site specific to human interaction, surfaces play off one another creating intimate and open spaces simultaneously.
I frequently use materials I find where I work, borrowing scraps or trash from other artists, construction materials from the building going up next door, or bricks and tiles from a demolition site. By working directly with an existing structure, the work engages and dialogues with that space in a unique way. The arrangements of the sheet-rock, wood, and Styrofoam insulation can make it seem like a work in progress — an ongoing interruption of space. Emphasizing small irregularities and mistakes, the installations become a public display of the intimate and elusive process that happens inside an artist’s studio.
Faded Waterslide (2009)
My work explores the peculiarity that occurs when different kinds of realities collide; specifically the juxtaposition of the natural world and the artificial ways in which mankind transforms that world. I’m fascinated by the psychological stories created when landscape, architecture, and man made designs are combined at conflicting moments in time and space. My paintings are fantasy, but potential realities of actual places. I’m interested in how structures meant for living, entertainment, and waste disposal transform and give meaning to the landscape in different ways. What happens when those places overlap? I consider what the future will look like. I examine the potential of parallel realities where we are forced to live in unfamiliar and polluted terrain due to our own waste and consumption. How will people transform the world in order to survive? I question mans potential to create and live in harmony with nature and one another, in a world full of hope and discovery.
Detail I-95 (Merry Christmas House)
Zoe Strauss is a photographer and installation artist from Philadelphia, PA.
Fenced In (2008)
Near the end of Chris Marker’s film Sans Soleil, the narrator pauses to describe the artistic project of a friend. “His language touches me,” the narrator says, “because he talks to that part of us which insists on drawing profiles on prison walls. A piece of chalk to follow the contours of what is not, or is no longer, or is not yet; the handwriting each one of us will use to compose his own list of ‘things that quicken the heart,’ to offer, or to erase.”
Since I first saw this film several years ago, Marker’s vision has lodged itself in my consciousness. Like Marker and the character in his film, I wonder how to make art that embraces absence—how to draw the contours of ‘what is not’. As someone who draws, I tend to think about this as a formal puzzle, but it also presents a kind of metaphysical dilemma. I suppose I find something at once troubling and beautiful in this kind of contour beacuse it becomes a question of how to draw a ghost, how to give form to non-form.
My subjects hail from the margins of my own day-to-day existence. I find myself drawn to fences and folding chairs, burnt cigarettes and sprouting grass. Each element brings with it concerns both mundane and existential; together, they punctuate the outer edges of my own territory as well as the events and rituals within it.
Like newly budding plants or very old grandparents, my sculptures subsist in a state of uncomfortable exposure. I use materials to make them—balsa wood, paper, thread, cardboard, dirt—that are inherently unstable or delicate. Also, I tend to make my sculptures very slight: they require a level of intimacy even to be seen. Their verisimilitude further disguises them; they may be felt as uncanny presences before they are recognized and deciphered as made objects. The result, for me, is both sad and celebratory. My sculptures could easily unravel or go unnoticed, but they also extol new beginnings. Taken as a group, they reshape our shared, familiar landscape into a more volatile place, one in which a viewer’s movements must become sympathetic or risk destroying the work.
I would hope that, like the profile on a prison wall, my sculptures both lament life’s passing, and at the same time mark its presence. It’s this small violence of everyday life that sustains my practice as an artist. And if the things I make tend toward the diminutive, I make them with the conviction that after an era of excess, quiet gestures can provide real sustenance. I deeply admire the work of Francis Alys, Martin Puryear, and Fred Sandback, each of whom uses the simplest, most elegant means to reach toward something vast and complex. These days especially, I believe we have a cultural need for objects that point outward—or inward—to something beyond themselves.
Leigh Van Duzer:
I photograph infrastructure exposed during construction and reconfigure architectural elements to interpret the space. Buildings have a lifespan similar to our own and I draw parallels between the stages of construction and our ongoing personal evolution. Construction sites offer a view of a transitional stage. These are spaces in flux, on the precipice of becoming finished.
I see in the two-by-four timber frames the strength that upholds the house, and I manipulate their forms to allude to their fragility. The framework of the building is a skeleton and it reminds me of my own bones- obscured, essential and supportive. Through cutting away sections of the print I create a latticework of timber hovering over an ambiguous ground, or a truncated bridge, connecting nothing. The structures are being put together or pulled apart, and tension is created by that ambiguity.
Interesting ideas and possibilities are frequently buried in conceptual ground that is perceived as worthless because of the high absurdity content in the soil. With the right riffle these ridiculous regions can be made to yield treasure.