Tightened, As If by Pliers: Group exhibition opens at the Knockdown Center in Queens

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Tightened, As If by Pliers: Group exhibition opens at the Knockdown Center in Queens
Julio Cortazar, From the Observatory, 1972.

NEW YORK, NY.- Ortega y Gasset Projects presents Tightened, As If by Pliers at the Knockdown Center in Queens, New York. Curated by Joshua Bienko and Leeza Meksin, the show includes works by Julio CortÓzar, Kevin Curran, Luc Fuller, Angelina Gualdoni, EJ Hauser, David Humphrey, Mary Reid Kelley, Amy Lincoln, Chris Martin, Susan Metrican, Hooper Turner, Alan Ruiz, Harriet Salmon, Michael Velliquette, and Sheilah Wilson.

In 1968, Argentine novelist Julio CortÓzar traveled to India to photograph an 18th century observatory built by Maharajah Jai Singh II, in Jaipur. He took nearly 300 photographs of the structure which later became the source for, and a contingent part of From the Observatory, an epic poem-narrative consistent with his genre-less writing style. CortÓzar’s photographs and subsequent writing considers the observatory in relation to the “art space.” For CortÓzar, the observatory in Jaipur was a place of deep consideration of the cosmos, but also of the dance eels do for an absent audience, of the eroticism of Jai Singh, of the depth of humor and the surface of philosophy.

For CortÓzar’s artistic output there were no categories: taking photos, writing poems, drinking mates, writing a nonlinear novel in 1963: these were all natural outgrowths of an intellectual curiosity. He was not being a “Photographer,” then a “Writer,” then a “Poet.” He was Socratically committed to questioning.

Through this insistence on questioning, the artists in Tightened, As If by Pliers practice resistance to the mundane anchoring of the present. Art is a window through which the past and the future is accessed from the vantage point of the present. By researching and referencing primary documents, Mary Reid Kelley, Angelina Gualdoni, Kevin Curran and Sheilah Wilson create symbolic spaces, evocative precisely because of their historical tethering. Amy Lincoln fantastical landscapes provide a ubiquitous entree point hinging on their anachronistic time and place.

These spaces float between past and present, earth and sky, imaginary and symbolic, in search of another understanding, a firmer ground. The text and image in EJ Hauser and Chris Martin’s work provides the viewer another vantage point. Somewhere in between, the letters become numbers and people, speechless faces and words, while the figures take on alphabetic shapes that speak with parrhesia. Susan Metrican’s sculptural paintings and Alan Ruiz’s installations reinforce the wall putting the responsibility of support and gravity on their upturned shoulders, while Michael Velliquette’s serpents spin, emerge and recede in an effort to avoid resolution. Like Michael Jordan’s sneaker logo, David Humphrey’s multi-limbed stuffed beast hangs in the air, twisting in a violent threat.

The mode of resistance must be creative. Part of what gives us access to the third state, this state of in between, is the ability to resist categorization and challenge the notion that an artist can or should be only one type of creator. The work of the artists in this show resists the constraints of genre, media, bodies, architecture and time. They escape. They resist resolution. The works stay alive, suspended in a purposeful state of conflict. As CortÓzar wrote “…this way of being between, not above or behind, but between… and not just for being said, this that flows or converges or seeks, might be what it is and not what it is said to be.”

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Tightened, As If by Pliers: Group exhibition opens at the Knockdown Center in Queens

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