press release

Paradox and Practice: Architecture in the Wake of Conceptualism presents seven projects that re-imagine key strategies of historical Conceptualism through the operation of paradox. Specifically, the classical Aristotelian notion of “site” – conceived as a distinct physical space – is rejected. These artists instead play with a paradoxical notion of site, one existing between art and architecture, and, by extension, memory and presence. From this unique position, recent cultural debates concerning public space, nationalism and identity are reconsidered.

Gaylen Gerber’s 60-foot gray monochrome Backdrop, at once a wall and a painting, is an architectural support and aesthetic object, making it impossible to discern where architecture ends and artwork begins. Since all of Gerber’s Backdrops are constructed as hanging walls for other artworks, the viewer is left to ponder a Beckett-like thought experiment whereby the “painting” is at once figure and ground.

Projected onto Backdrop is Dorit Margreiter’s zentrum, a 16mm film documenting the reconstruction of a 1960s LED sign affixed to a modernist building in Leipzig scheduled to be demolished. Derived from this signage, Margreiter has “invented” an entire font face. What zentrum thus “documents” is our attempt to catch a fleeting memory, specifically the cultural memory of aesthetic strategies associated with the avant-garde’s utopian project.

Molly Corey’s Dome Project combines Super-8 archival footage shot between 1968 and 1972 with contemporary interviews of communards who, along with her family, built the world’s then-largest geodesic dome. Accompanied by small-scale models of Buckminister Fuller domes, made from photographs of her past work as well as from her family archive, Corey’s Dome Project stresses the moment between an historical past and a personal present.

Katya Sander’s Exterior City conceives of an imaginary city – an invisible seam between Malmo and Vienna – at once exterior and interior to the viewer’s physical and psychic space. This instance of self-conscious embodied vision recalls Dan Graham’s conceptualist Cinema project of 1981. However, in Graham’s Cinema the “exterior city” is a literal space, while the “exterior city” in Sander’s diorama enacts an imaginary operation.

Florian Pumhösl’s 16mm film Programm is inspired by the São Paulo residence Casa Modernista, a 1927 work by Russian-Brazlian architect Gregori Warchavchik. The building, like the film, embodies a hybrid practice, one that initiates a dialogue between periods, regions and associated aesthetics. Originally projected as an installation at the Säo Paulo Biennale, Pumhösl’s Programm will be screened at UCI’s Film and Video Center, (HIB 100) February 1, 6pm.

An Te Liu’s Untitled (Complex IV) resembles architectural models in the likes of such modernist plazas as Brasilia. At the same time, it evokes late Modernist monochrome painting. Liu further twists these functional/abstract traditions by evoking Conceptual dematerialist strategies through the introduction of sex pheromones, which are ionized by the work into the gallery’s air. This playful act intellectually conflates known public spaces with unknown sexual regions.

Fallen Fruit, a collaborative project between David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young, originally called for the “transplantation” of fruit from the private to the public sphere. As a metaphor for the movement of the body politic from private to public space, “fruit” stands for that which is forbidden, i.e. for public indulgence (sex). Their latest installation City Hall / Fruit Protest, shown here, further conflates the question of who owns our bodies with the question of who owns the streets.

Architecture in the Wake of Conceptualism

mit Molly Corey, Fallen Fruit, Gaylen Gerber, An Te Liu, Dorit Margreiter, Florian Pumhösl, Katya Sander