New York – “A Machinery For Living” Curated by Walead Beshty at Petzel Gallery Through August 8th, 2014

July 24th, 2014

A Machinery for Living at the Petzel Gallery, installation view, via Art Observed
A Machinery for Living at the Petzel Gallery, installation view, via Art Observed

On view at Petzel Gallery is a group exhibition organized by Walead Beshty entitled “A Machinery for Living.” Composed of over 100 photographs, drawings, paintings, sculptural and installation works, the exhibition approaches a concept of embracing the subversive within everyday life.

Thomas Barrow, F/T/S Libraries Series (1977), via Art Observed
Thomas Barrow, F/T/S Libraries Series (1977), via Art Observed

A Machinery For Living encourages viewers to embrace everyday life, from the most significant moments to the most banal, and encouraging reflection on each moment as part of a grander whole. Beshty was inspired by Maurice Blanchot’s words about our individual everyday lives: “Not only must one not doubt it, but one must not dread it; rather one ought to seek to recapture the secret destructive capacity that is in play in it…”

A Machinery For Living (Installation View), courtesy Petzel Gallery
A Machinery For Living (Installation View), courtesy Petzel Gallery

Accordingly, the works on view feel looked within an engagement with the trappings and scenery of everyday life.  Clothing and furniture runs up against familiar cinematic iconography, blending together to create a nuanced a reflective approach to the objects surrounding the viewer everyday.  What’s more, the pieces on view extend far beyond the pre-ordained concepts of the high art object.  Advertising clippings are placed alongside X-Ray images, books are included alongside coffee tables and seating.  The materials move between the elevated state of the artwork and simple objects, welcoming a lingering reflection that underscores the potential for new states of perception and negotiation with each experience.

Atelier EB, Look 1, (no date), via Art Observed
Atelier EB, Look 1 (undated), via Art Observed

Also emerging within the exhibition is a focus on the house – not as a machine for living in, but rather as “the shell of a man – his extension, his release, his spiritual emanation” (Eileen Gray).  In order to feel free within a life that is for the most part structured for us, Beshty has put together a group of works that speak about human freedom within enclosed spaces – freedom still exists within certain constraints as long as we are able to realize it.  The opportunity exists within these spaces to turn objects on their ear, to animate them with the viewer’s own impressions and intents, and to reclaim them from a mere commoditized economy.

Craig Kauffman, Untitled (1963-1998), via Art Observed
Craig Kauffman, Untitled (1963-1998), via Art Observed

Raymond Pettibon, No Title (Los Angeles Spread) (1986) Courtesy Petzel Gallery
Raymond Pettibon, No Title (Los Angeles Spread) (1986) Courtesy Petzel Gallery

Exhibition organizer Walead Beshty was born in 1976 in London, and he currently lives and works in Los Angeles as a photographer and as a Professor in the Graduate Art Department of Art Center College of Design. Beshty is represented by Wallspace Gallery, NYC, and his work has been exhibited at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, NY; Capitain Petzel, Berin; Regen Projects, LA; and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C..

A Machinery For Living will continue at Petzel Gallery in New York through August 8, 2014.

James Welling, Hands #1 (1975), Courtesy Petzel Gallery
James Welling, Hands #1 (1975), Courtesy Petzel Gallery

A Machinery For Living (Installation View), courtesy Petzel Gallery
A Machinery For Living (Installation View), courtesy Petzel Gallery

Dr. Dain L. Tasker, An X-Ray of Anthuriusms (c. 1930) Courtesy Petzel Gallery
Dr. Dain L. Tasker, An X-Ray of Anthuriusms (c. 1930) Courtesy Petzel Gallery

Craig Kauffman, Untitled (1962) Courtesy Petzel Gallery
Craig Kauffman, Untitled (1962) Courtesy Petzel Gallery

Claire Fontaine, Économie libindinale brickbat (2010), Courtesy Petzel Gallery
Claire Fontaine, Économie libindinale brickbat (2010), Courtesy Petzel Gallery

Rudi Gernreich, Design For a Child's Bathing Suit (1970)
Rudi Gernreich, Design For a Child’s Bathing Suit (1970), Courtesy Petzel Gallery

—E. Baker

Related Links:
Exhibition Page [Petzel Gallery]