New work by Charles Long, Paradigm Lost, is currently on view at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York through February 9. This exhibition brings together work that the artist has created over the past year, continuing the artist’s “investigation of the forms scattered on the shore of modernism’s receding wave.” For Long’s thirteenth solo exhibition with the gallery, the artist continues his long-standing exploration of the legacy and trajectory of modernism, pointing to the need to renegotiate and transcend its shortcomings. With reference to various figureheads of the 20th century, Paradigm Lost illustrates the casualties and excesses staged by the present moment’s patriarchal forbearers with nuance and play.
Installation view. All images via Tanya Bonakdar Gallery.
As a resident of Mt. Baldy, California for over a decade, Long’s current work has been inspired by the deteriorating landscape, detritus and tree trunks, that he has encountered during his daily walks through this landscape. As trees die and other effects of climate change take hold, the village has become overrun with stumps and stacks of massive logs. For Long, the symbolic weight of this material resonates with the social and political consequences of the inheritance of patriarchy. In light of this, paradigm lost approaches Long’s role in these circumstances, taking into account his identity as a socially gendered being.
In one work, Long replaced the concentric rings of a tree stump with a cross-section of the human penis. From this, a third association appeared. As the artist explains “The anatomical cross section oddly resembled a face or ancient mask that looked back at me with an expression of confusion or sorrow…The new works then spilled out from this tear in the fabric of my being in myriad images and forms of this open body, creating a mythological world, all of it bound of the sole motif derived from the anatomical cross section of the human male anatomy.”
Accordingly, Paradigm Lost seeks to offer a place to contemplate the “aftermath of a patriarchal apocalypse.” Though this collapse of the patriarchy is largely imagined in the space of the exhibition, the work therein seeks to create space to contemplate the effects and conditions that led to this hypothetical extinction. Long’s immersive exhibition creates space for mourning the planet, as well as the collapsing social and political systems that have failed, while remaining open to nuance and sardonic critique. Ultimately, the exhibition is a meditation on the future, hoping to set the stage for an unscripted performance that will usher in the new paradigm.
— A. Corrigan
Exhibition page [Tanya Bonakdar Gallery]