Co-curated by Geo Gonzalez and Dan Halm
Opening: March 24, 2016, 7-10 pm
Duration: March 25 – May 21, 2016
Tyler Beard, Marnie Bettridge, Sabine Bokelberg, Monika Grabuschnigg, Dan Halm, Anat Homm, Stephanie Imbeau, Florian Japp, Ben Peterson, Doug Reyes, Su-Ran Sichling, Madeline Stillwell, Megan Stroech, Katy Stubbs, Lucy Teasdale, Carolin Wachter, Undisclosed Artist
UNEARTHED runs parallel to our digital era. We are constantly reminded of our concerns about concealing our identities and our personal information from systematic surveillance. UNEARTHED hacks into this system and leaves behind its traces in it. The viewer gets a glimpse of these traces through human effects on material. UNEARTHED is undoubtedly built from the human touch; its DNA is impossible to hide. UNEARTHED is present, visceral, and real.
UNEARTHED takes inspiration from past rebellious groups of artists who founded the outsider ceramics movement such as Kenneth Price, Jerry Rothman, and John Mason. In the 1950s, abstract expressionist clay sculptures merged the divide between craft and the fine arts movement, often coined as ‘total freedom.’ Howard Kottler also paved the way for controversial ceramic art in the 60’s and 70’s. He has been described as “setting the stage for the new genre of in-your-face clay.” UNEARTHED honours this history but also allows the viewer a rare chance to see the emergence of new names and works.
Traditionally, UNEARTHED practices have produced objects of a kitschy and superficial nature. Plates, vases, and tchotchkes represented the status quo’s taste and demand. UNEARTHED showcases international artists that resist this objectification of clay. Ben Peterson’s ‘queer ceramics’ radically pushes back against the aesthetics of the masses. Instead he glamourizes sensuality, sexuality, transgression, and the scatalogical in his ceramics alongside Katy Stubbs, David Buys Golitha’s Body for One Night of Passion, questioning the ideas of empowerment and gender roles set within the clay.
“Untitled” by an Undisclosed Artist, leaves a small white cube UNEARTHED in the gallery whose cracks and “imperfections” are visible to the human eye. “Untitled” is the imprint of a constant ritual, performed to excess, stressed into a self portrait – delicate and imperfect, as we ourselves are. This can also be seen in the works of Monika Grabuschnigg, Anat Homm, and Su-Ran Sichling, which question our position in this manufactured overhaul we call life, sitting between commodities and prized goods.
Megan Stroech, Madeline Stillwell, Carolin Wachter, and Doug Reyes use an array of urban spaces, sounds, and found objects to comment on our culture’s obsession with mass production. They satirically jest at the all too well-known art historical hierarchies, establishments, and political structures surrounding clay. They take their formal cues from industrial machines and post-industrial landscapes but never leave their unique positions and rhetorics.
Tyler Beard, Florian Japp, and Sabine Bokelberg exercise undoubtedly formalism, but it’s a hand-crafted formalism, which carries on a rich and vital tradition of the creator rather than the institution. In their hands UNEARTHED has become something new and objective.
UNEARTHED clay clumps, dries under fingernails, and is dug up to be formed into objects. It dates back to 24,000 BC. It has no interest in being a good, conservative, aesthetic object here. These seventeen international artists integrate clay as a medium in their practice, bringing forth issues of class, gender, and sexuality in raw and rare UNEARTHLY forms.