press release

"By definition, a prop is an object that goes on a journey; hence props trace spatial trajectories and create temporal narratives as they track through a given performance." —Andrew Sofer "The Stage Life of Props"

bitforms gallery is pleased to announce Theatrical Properties, a group exhibition featuring the New York debut of four installations that engage the narrative of everyday objects. Crafting storylines and subtly questioning our habits of consumption, these works use the physical object as a metaphor of our larger cultural identities.

Jean Shin's large-scale photographic series "Profiles" captures monumental figures dramatically engaged in everyday actions. The figures in the photographs are altered sports trophies that have had their basketball, tennis racket and hockey stick replaced with a stroller, hammer, clipboard, or other work-related prop. Enlarged and shown without their pedestals, the individual statues feel uncannily human in their expressions and imperfections. Together these life-size representations of a janitor, handyman, assistant, cashier, mechanic, cook and babysitter celebrate the unsung heroes whose everyday labors ordinarily go unrecognized.

Soaking the gallery wall in burnt motor oil, "Cenit (Peak/Zenith)" by Marcela Armas is a temporal work tracing the brief history drawn by the course of 20th century fossil fuel consumption. Slowly pumping a black viscous liquid through a network of plastic piping shaped as a city skyline, the piece highlights waste and extraction as structural supports of contemporary civilization. Unfolding over a period of approximately five days, the tension in this work builds a story of excess. Much like the timeline in a film, the work starts with a place and basic premise which drives plot forward until reaching its climactic moment of release.

The fulfillment of desire and unchecked realizations are handled in Michel de Broin's work. "Bleed" positions a common household drill as a scarred fountain. Pierced to death, in a reversal of its own power, the tool rests on a pedestal as endless streams of water flow from five holes in its dead body. Exploiting its circular and self-reflexive narrative, the piece poses unanswerable questions of its creation and destruction. Might the object have been left out accidentally by gallery staff before opening the exhibition? Is it really part of the exhibition? A literal confrontation with the ritualistic unseen action and sacrifice for the sake of display- its reality is troubled.

Daniel Canogar uses art installation as a vehicle that reanimates the lifeless, reviving a collective portrait of secrets contained in discarded electronic materials. In "Pneuma 3" the ephemeral lifeblood of a telephone signal serves as a metaphor for technological mortality. A relic in the age of information, the wires in this work were found in a dumpster near the artist's home. Flickering with light, the illuminated color cabling in this sculpture evokes both the stage and crackling communications, reminding us of our own fragile bodies and natural information exchanges. Defined as "breath" by the ancient Greeks, pneuma is a vehicle of logos, which structures the continuum of matter.

Theatrical Properties
featuring work by Marcela Armas, Michel de Broin, Daniel Canogar, Jean Shin
Kuratoren: Emily Bates, Laura Blereau