Pet Names for Wastelands
February 10 - April 10, 2017
Small Editions is pleased to announce a group show of work by Jordan Barse, Jack Henry, Andrew Laumann, & Miles Pflanz. Entitled Pet Names for Wastelands, the exhibition is organized by Alt Esc, and will run from 10 February through 7 April 2017. Small Editions is located at 60 Sackett St, Brooklyn, NY 11231.
“I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.”
Song to Myself. Whitman. 1888
We scavenge our landscapes sentimentally, reappraising refuse, and finding hidden potential in the abandoned or undervalued. There is subjectivity of a value in art and daily life. One man’s trash is another’s treasure.
Pet Names for Wastelands revokes the traditional phases of consumerism through denying it’s linear chronology. American consumerism choreographs an object’s transgression with a finite start and finish. It amalgamates the new with the coveted and operates under the belief that an object will erode physically and sentimentally to detritus. We are taught to think, “That’s it. Let’s buy the new thing.” However, through recycling of material, there is a chance to rebel and move past our economic model’s systematic constraints. Marx’s theory of value claims that the value of a commodity can be objectively measured by the hours of labor required in production. Following that argument, if new labor and energy is directed into an object, value can be restored and (even) expanded. There is chance of rebirth and to diverge from an original purpose.
Through the reappropriation of the object, Pet Names for Wastelands countermands the linear transgression of commodity. An object’s life is duplicative and cyclical: the line between the old and the new blurs. New life tangles with decay. Sometimes the mark between the old and new is delineated. Other times it’s hard to tell where the old ends and new begins.
The artists in the exhibition find the silver linings in the wastelands and use wreckage of the excess to create objects of new meaning. Miles Pflanz in his short film Find Clothes (2011, 2017 re edit) follows a group of naked crust punks through hills of trash. They model clothes, repurposing the garbage, into potential garments, as an act of jovial rebellion. Scavenging for materials is also exemplified in Jack Henry’s sculptures. He reenergizes urban decay through creating molds, vertically pouring traditional art materials (like paint, cement, and resin) onto the found objects, resulting in multi-textured capsules. Similarly Andrew Laumann’s paintings are sourced from discardments – offshoots of consumer excess. He states in an interview with Alt Esc, “My material interest lies in waste. The advertising that engulfs urban environments is my palate. I repossess images pasted onto walls. I also like to keep my materials utilitarian. It’s key that the materials are simultaneously recognizable and almost indecipherable from non-art objects.”
The artists in the exhibition also exemplify a benevolence to the lost and discarded. Jordan Barse’s work narrates the anticipatory anxiety of environmental disasters and investigates “myopically living in the anthropocene.” She renders mermaid purses (beach waste), reflecting that they are “little monuments of stale potential.” Pflanz’s video Reverse (2015) reflects a geographical nostalgia. He depicts a woman tranquilly spray painting a drowned city. She acts alone, vandalizing a ghost. The paint catches onto waves.
The title, Pet Names for Wastelands alludes to our tenderness to the discarded. It stands for material reappraisal, but also the abstract notation that even if surrounded by garbage you have power, you are the élan vital, to create evolution. The exhibition is reflective of the sub communities that grow stronger during dark times, and find beauty and hope in spaces where other’s have forgotten or lost hope. It reminds us that there are second chances, that we can’t erase our past, but we can move forward and change who and what we are.
The world falls apart and comes together simultaneously.
Jordan Barse (b. 1992, New York, NY) lives and works in Brooklyn. She has recently exhibited with 15 Orient (New York) and Young Professionals (Cincinnati). She is also the director of Theta, an itinerant exhibition space.
Jack Henry has had solo/two person exhibitions at Storefront (New York), Nudashank (Baltimore), and Greenpoint Gallery (New York). He has been featured in group shows at The New Gallery for Contemporary Art at NOVA (Virginia), Idio Gallery (New York), Centotto (New York), Last Daze (Maine), Kunsthalle Galapagos (New York), Dodge Gallery (New York), Radiator Gallery (New York) the Stamp Gallery (UMD, College Park), and Fjord (Philadelphia).
Andrew Laumann (b. 1987) has had solo exhibitions at Terrault (Baltimore), Farewell (Austin), Galerie Jeanroch Dard (Paris), and Penthouse (Baltimore). His work has been included in two-person and group exhibitions at New Museum (New York), Outpost (Brooklyn), Signal Gallery (Brooklyn), Springsteen & Nudashank (Baltimore), 12 Mail Gallery (Paris), Pre Teen Gallery (Mexico City), Reference Gallery (Richmond) among others.
Miles Pflanz (b. 1987) is a video and installation artist. In 2012, he founded Fitness Center for Arts & Tactics (New York), a beloved and now defunct venue for for art and music. In 2014, he ran new media workshops for prisoners at Lincoln Correctional Facility. Since 2015, his work has screened at Satellite Art Fair (Miami), MoMA PS1 Printshop (New York), Pace University (New York), at dozens of DIY venues including Trans Pecos (New York) and Grace Exhibition Space (New York), and at festivals in Cuba, Ethiopia, Germany, and China. He is currently making feature length remakes of popular apocalyptic franchises like the Purge and Left Behind.
(Image: Andrew Laumann “Jaw Breaker” 2017 Methylcellulose & Paper on Canvas Mounted to Wood Panel 60”x 40”)