A More Durable Self
Antonia Kuo, Nick Mayer, and Joshua Caleb Weibley
June 24-July 31. Opening: June 24, 6 - 8pm.
29c Ludlow Street NYC
29c Ludlow Street NYC
Experience irradiates every crevice of our sense of ourselves. For this exhibition, my cohort and I present works that absorb the accidents of their making, like an open box of baking soda at the back of a fridge swallowing scents. Like the box, we cover up what we’re marinating in, rendering the points where our human hands and selves enter the equation ambiguous. Whether by photochemical experiment, high-resolution scan, or densely layered patterning, we’re consummate craftspersons whose craft erases us.
Alvin Lucier’s sound piece I Am Sitting in a Room came up in conversations ahead of this presentation. In some respects this is an “artist’s artist” show in which mutual respect is the real curatorial principle, so it makes sense to speak of someone we all admire here.
While Lucier’s is—by far—not the first self-reflexive art work, it tunnels deeper into its own creation than, say, Robert Morris’s Box with the Sound of Its Own Making. Morris forces us (to some extent) to suspend our disbelief and accept recording and playback technologies as magically already-present conveyors of the piece’s interiority (hammering, sawing). Not so with Lucier. The recording process is explained matter-of-factly in his frank statement that is then played back and re-recorded time and time again, drifting slowly into incomprehensibility. The room where the process occurred becomes an active character/participant whose attributes (“resonant frequencies”) the work is set up to demonstrate. The playback is native to the different room the hearer occupies while listening, manifesting whenever you press “play”. Finally: Lucier is particular and human in his diction. The procedure he sets up smooths him out, leaving a stutter as the last recognizable wrinkle of his voice that rhythmically lingers. People get physically nude in art and do not achieve that level of nakedness, and yet the final result is impenetrable gauzy feedback armor.
A More Durable Self tries this: machinic gestures that draw on intimate contextual facts of their making, but evade easy, direct identification with the people that set their procedures in motion. An organically crafted subterfuge passing our soft underbelly off as something harder, more austere, less fragile.
As for our room: it is encircled by a simple baseboard; the floors are a series of plates bolted to the ground; the room is a little more than 24 feet long by almost 14 feet wide with a ten foot ceiling; a two-and-a-half foot deep shelf under the front window may be where you picked up a print copy of these words; the room’s east wall is uninterrupted, save for some outlet covers; the west wall is narrower by half a foot for the first nine feet of its length as you enter, dividing its first third from the larger 15 foot span terminating at the back wall; a pipe in front of the back wall emerging from the floor sharply twists as it nears the ceiling to exit via the west wall, effectively framing a large portion of the back wall; an entranceway leads from the left side of the rear wall to an administrative room with a desk and more art from the present show’s artists and some others who are represented by the gallery; an adjoining viewing room contains more art.
If you need to sit down in our room we can accommodate that, just ask.
-Joshua Caleb Weibley, June 2022