Marking its entry in a summer of group shows, Petzel Gallery’s uptown space hosts Commonwealth and Council, a show dedicated to the Los Angeles gallery of the same name, celebrating over ten years of work supporting young artists and the growth the gallery has seen in recent years. Founded in 2010, Commonwealth and Council has committed itself to a dynamic program building counter-narratives that reflect individual and collective realities. On view here, artists Cayetano Ferrer, Gala Porras-Kim, Nikita Gale, rafa esparza, and Suki Seokyeong Kang, showcase interests and focuses on the underrepresented, acknowledging that meaning occurs at a host of myriad idiosyncratic registers—and propose alternative modalities of knowledge, speech, and value systems.
Throughout, the range of works present disparate approaches and unique interests in structure, presentation and form. Gala Porras-Kim , for instance, disrupts museological and anthropological conventions, playfully poking holes in the practical logic of conservators and registrars to advocate for the material and philosophical conditions that objects under institutional “stewardship” face. In one work, a cube is presented, constructed from dust and residue collected during a deinstallation at the Met’s Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, turning the physical detritus and unseen material of the space into a focal point. By contrast, Cayetano Ferrer’s work examines institutional environments from a perspective of contextual examination and projection. Ferrer underscores the feigned neutrality in the museum pedestal and proposes instead a display system that exhibits its own placelessness. This is best seen in Remnant Recomposition 5 (Section C), assembled from the floors of Las Vegas casinos. Each pattern appropriates a different visual tradition—synecdoche for the ahistorical jumble of cliches presented by the casinos themselves. In Remnant Recomposition, Ferrer reappropriates this pastiching, collapsing time, place, and culture to create a hybrid entity straddling function, design, and art.
Other works take on structural form in different modes, yet remain interested in cultural sites and spaces of production. Nikita Gale’s WATCH MEEEEEE, a cluster of audio cables and concrete-dipped terrycloth overtakes and disrupts the shape and purpose of an aluminum barrier, akin to ones found at concerts and public events. Draped, slung, and knotted, the confusion of materials evokes both the obfuscation and conduction of sound. While the tangles suggest an interior logic, Gale turns the work towards a less concrete site, ignoring exterior space in favor of a peculiar internal logic. Similar notes are found in the work of Suki Seokyeong Kang, who shows steel lattices with hand-woven Korean reed mats (Hwamunseok). Irregular leather scraps and stray threads playfully punctuate the modernist grid; it is as if Kang asks us to consider what subversions or tangents these seemingly rigid structures may accommodate. Kang assembles her sculptures according to an idiosyncratic syntax of form, material, and referent. In Tender Meander #19-08, a steel cylinder crowns a slice of tree trunk, supported by a cluster of wheeled legs that recall an office chair. In compelling the viewer to navigate around and amongst these constructs, Kang suggests an awareness of how one occupies space and navigates the interstices of self and other.
Throughout, the show makes much of sites as constructions and representations of meaning, turning architecture and design into spaces for the examination of culture and politics. The show closes August 5th.
– D. Creahan
Commonwealth and Council [Exhibition Site]