Pièce de résistance
January 08 - February 13, 2010

Larissa Goldston Gallery is pleased to present Pièce de résistance featuring works by Brian Clifton, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Roberto Jacoby with Fernanda Laguna, and MPA. Curated by Dean Daderko, the artists in this exhibition share a fluid sense of both form and subjectivity, engaged within an economy of means. Pièce de résistance will be on view January 8th through February 13th, 2010. There will be an opening reception on Friday, January 8th from 6 – 8 pm.

In 1915, a seminal artistic gesture occurred when Marcel Duchamp, searching for an alternative to ‘retinal’ art, created his first readymade. Today, peeling back layers of art history, textbook images, and the conditioning by which we see a bottle rack or bicycle wheel as Art, we can recognize that what Duchamp did in creating the readymade is still radical. His action was to declare an object, with no apparent aesthetic intervention, as a work of art; this is a move that was seemingly effortless and wonderfully shocking. Duchamp demanded artistic freedom.  It seems he wanted not quite a freedom from form, because, with a bit of consideration, it’s easy to recognize that the objects Duchamp claimed as readymades were in fact carefully and thoughtfully chosen. Rather, what Duchamp claimed was the freedom to exceed form, releasing it from the subjugation of the actual and the physical.  Thanks to the imagination of the artist, these objects became startlingly clear evidence of an unfolding conceptual space that was limitless. They caused similar results for their viewers.

The 1960s and 70s were years when subjectivity became a ground for experimentation; this had major political, aesthetic, and ethical consequences. Today we live in conservative and impoverished times; the stakes of 40 and 50 years ago are still contemporary, but the language with which to approach these problems has been expropriated and forgotten. One must sometimes go backward to find it again.

                Claire Fontaine, in “Acts of Freedom,” Art Papers, November/December 2009, pp. 20

Fortunately, economic downturns don’t apply to ideas; in fact, quite the opposite seems true. Periods of capital scarcity generate an economy of means where ideas are honed and simplified.  Results can be seen in Arte Povera, Mono-ha, and Neoconcretismo, all of which are movements that eschewed expensive production in favor of an economy of means and information.  Over the last 40 years, artists like Lygia Clark, David Hammons, Allan Kaprow, and Gina Pane made simple works and gestures that pushed the envelope of form, provoking audience involvement through literal performance and other more performative tactics. Their dialogues remain direct and intense.

More recently, artists' experiments with form have revealed expanded ways to look at familiar genres. For instance, when a documentary photographer hands off a camera to a subject to capture an image, fixed and stable subjectivities disintegrate as more fluid positions come into focus. This occurs materially as well as conceptually; dialogues about process and performance are increasingly important considerations when one considers artists’ objects. One could say that paralleling developments in subjectivity, form has similarly unfolded and become more fluid. 

Brian Clifton creates an installation where space is physically mapped with grids of wire; alterations of this volume reveal patterns of its use. Also on view are a series of Clifton’s drawings which look like old and yellowed pages torn out of paperback novels. Their handwritten texts evoke other spaces – both rooms and states of mind.  They harmonize the physical location in which the viewer stands with an interior place created in the imaginary, the gallery itself, and elsewhere. 

Photographs by LaToya Ruby Frazier and the New York premiere of her documentary video A Mother to Hold evidence the artist’s unflinching and generous documentary eye. While much has been made of certain details of Frazier’s personal backstory, it is her unapologetic and sensitive portrayals of family, friends and familiar locations that get under our skin.  Frazier’s work encourages us to recognize our shared humanity with her and her subjects and creates a place where we can explore these connections. Real recognize real.

Roberto Jacoby and Fernanda Laguna, both based in Argentina, contribute Donaciones[Donations], a work which multiplies and confounds the boundaries of the work of art and of authorship. When the artists created an authorized copy of Duchamp’s Feuille de vigne femelle [Female Fig Leaf] for a museum of reproductions in Buenos Aires – notable as the only 20th century work in the museum’s collection – they not only drew attention to the condition of the ‘original’ and the ‘copy’ but also to the economies and inventiveness that are necessary when one is situated in the so-called periphery.

Two new works by the artist MPA both explore contested geographies. More than 100,000 is a geometric monument referencing the number of American troops - each an individual life - purportedly deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan today.  MPA explores a different contested territory in the filmed performance ritual Excuse me, I made a mark before asking permission. Shot in the desert near Marfa, Texas, considerations of Minimalism and Land Art are woven together with reverence for the land and ideas of how it may be occupied.

Though the time for the readymade has passed, the radicality of Duchamp’s gesture persists, as does its significance. It persists in the work of artists like these, full of brutal elegance and inventive materiality. Their generosity of spirit does much to free us from the limiting constraints of form and helps us recognize previously unimagined possibilities existing at its edges.

Larissa Goldston Gallery is located at 530 West 25th Street, 3rd floor. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11am – 6pm.

For more information, please contact the gallery at 212-206-7887, email atinfo@larissagoldston.com, or visit www.larissagoldston.com.

Larissa Goldston Gallery