Currently on view at Lisson Gallery in London is a group exhibition including paintings, prints, relief objects, and works on canvas from nine different artists, grouped together around a theme of seemingly minimal artistic intervention. Contrasting with the minimal nature of these works, the pieces often required a complex, long and contemplative processes that preceded the works’ final production. Participating artists include: Allora & Calzadilla, Cory Arcangel, N. Dash, Robert Janitz, Paulo Monteiro, David Ostrowski, Michael Rey, Julia Rommel, and Dan Shaw-Town.
The exhibition title “Where Were You?” is based on the title of the song Where Were You? by British punk band The Mekons, whose lyrics repeatedly ask an unseen subject where they have been. Applied here, the show seems to be suggesting that the works intend to provide either interrogative or antagonistic positions, requiring the artist and the viewer to question each other’s motivations or presences at all – each asking the other “where were you?”
Cory Arcangel’s Gradient works, for example, were created quickly using the Photoshop’s gradient fill command, but the artist carefully recorded the parameters of each work, allowing any user to recreate the piece provided they followed the same meticulous instructions. Michael Rey’s wall works were made with a flattened layer of painted plasticine ground, as a self-described reflection of his “own anxieties about finitude.” Similarly, Robert Janitz mixes oil paint and flour, and sometimes also egg or wax, intentionally obscuring and muddling his own lines. N. Dash’s wall hangings, in a similar fashion, use painting as a vocabulary to articulate the concept of interior and exterior space.
In another room of the gallery space, Allora & Calzadilla are showing a work using sandpaper sheets from Detroit construction sites to make abstract statements representing labor and use. Elsewhere, Dan Shaw-Town created a work made of stacked paper which was later degraded through abrasion, folding, and other manipulative processes, until it was left on the floor in the form of a puddle.
Where Were You? (Installation View), all images courtesy Lisson Gallery
What the works all have in common is their focus on process, particularly one that involves not only quotidian materials and techniques, but one that in fact involves the processes and labor of outside viewers and producers. Regardless of the perception of a final product, the works on view place the process and its outputs as just one part of the final creative exchange.
“Where Were You?” will continue at Lisson Gallery through August 24th.
— E. Baker
Exhibition Page [Lisson Gallery]