press release

In Jonathan Horowitz’s third show at Sadie Coles HQ, 'Free Store', everything is recycled. A new video titled Apocalypto Now is made entirely from found documentary footage and fragments of TV shows and films. Scenes from classic movies are interspersed with obscure bits of media detritus, forming pointed critical connections between disparate fictional and historical accounts. Out of this montage approach, Horowitz constructs incisive new narratives which powerfully reflect on important and topical cultural and political issues. The star of the piece is Mel Gibson, a figure whose avowed Catholic faith is at apparent odds with his public relation catastrophes. The presentation of the film is carbon neutral, with a solar panel just outside the gallery space harnessing energy to fuel the piece. The second work in the show is a modular sculpture titled ‘Free Store'. The piece consists of a series of pedestals built out of recycled plastic planks, which when turned upside down become bins. Visitors are invited to recycle their own possessions by bringing something to place in or on one of them, and taking away whatever they wish. In its broadest sense, the earth can be interpreted as a ‘free store’:as with Horowitz’s sculpture, it requires a social contract from man in order to function, and in extreme interpretations, survive.

Working in video, sculpture, sound installation, and photography, Horowitz’s work often constitutes in the first instance an investigation of media. This is perfectly surmised by his 1990 video Maxell, in which the name of the eponymous videotape manufacturer was copied and copied until it became illegible. Later into the 1990s, Horowitz’s work took a distinctly more political turn as he began to derive material from a wide spectrum of political ideas and motivations – from race to AIDS, from Congress to veganism, and from war to body politics. Throughout, Horowitz’s art is characterized by a confluence of the personal and the political. Using simple mechanisms – juxtaposition, superimposition, or the foregrounding of a given medium’s structural properties – Horowtiz conveys significant meanings. In his photographic piece Official Portrait of George W. Bush Available for Free from the White House Hung Upside Down (2001), the act of quite literally turning the leader on his head conveys a mordant poltical message. A poignant sense of humour often pervades, as in Go Vegan! (200 Celebrity Vegetarians Downloaded from the Internet) (2002). Here, as elsewhere in Horowitz’s work, a specific media fixation or cause becomes an eloquent microcosm for the ‘bigger social picture’.

Jonathan Horowitz was born in New York in 1966 and studied at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut. A retrospective exhibition of his work is currently on view at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York, as well as a solo exhibition at Museum Ludwig in Cologne. Other solo shows include Silent Movie at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, 2003, and Time, Life, People at Kunsthalle St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland, 2001. Horowitz has been included in numerous key group exhibitions of recent years including Playback, ARC/Musee d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, France, 2007; Lines, Grids, Stains, Words, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2007; and also in 2007, Art in America: 300 Years of Innovation, the National Art Museum of China, Beijing, organised by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art. He lives and works in New York.

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Jonathan Horowitz
Free Store
Ort: 9 Balfour Mews, London