upstairs: Strauss Bourque-LaFrance, Caitlin Keogh, Pam Lins, Sean Raspet
Rachel Uffner Gallery is pleased to present its first group exhibition installed in the gallery's upstairs space in its new location at 170 Suffolk Street. This group exhibition presents the work of four artists - Strauss Bourque-LaFrance, Caitlin Keogh, Pam Lins, Sean Raspet - who share an interest in surface, artifice, perception, and seriality. Jointly, the works in the exhibition engage with questions of production and consumption, conceived from either sourced or original material. They don’t prioritize the "picture" or the "object," but rather present a space mediated via the modes of ornamentation and display. 'Looking' becomes an active rather than passive exercise; with screens, shelves, or even scents enhancing the experience of layered images and transmission of information.
In his installations, Strauss Bourque-LaFrance fuses everyday materials into beguiling formal compositions and precarious arrangements that playfully subvert mundane interiors and position domesticity as a mise-en-scene for role-play and disjointed narrative. With these new "vacation paintings," Bourque-LaFrance addresses his all consuming detachment from traditional painting and its relationship to digital screens and tablets. He manipulates readymade mesh screens and spray paints the foreground and background to create immediate, textured works that hover on the edge between abstraction and representation. Hanging loosely in beguilingly slick, multi-colored Plexiglas boxes they reference both the tenderness of textiles and domestic towel racks with the authoritative formality of historical vitrines
Caitlin Keogh's meticulous, labored works explore the production and exhibition of textiles, decorative arts and illustration. The organizing principles of construction and display are emphasized as Keogh crops and enlarges various points of view, focusing on minute details or obsessively repeated visual elements or phrases. Appropriating text from Dior by Dior: The Autobiography of Christian Dior and Marguerite Duras' The Ravishing of Lol Stein is a point of departure in this selection of paintings, weaving excerpts into typographic patterns.
Pam Lins is primarily a sculptor interested in the social, political, and psychological implications of material and process, and particularly in the relationship between the artist studio and the commercial world. In Red White and Blue (2013) she presents a trio of ceramic mini drum sets, each slightly different than the next, sitting precariously atop USPS cardboard boxes. These complimentary readymade pedestals are each selected for their relational scale and ability to be shipped anywhere in the world according to a "flat rate." Considering issues of representation and pre-determined shifts in scale, Lins offers a knowing likeness of contemporary detritus and commodity culture.
The relationship between material and abstraction has been a longstanding concern in the work of Sean Raspet, particularly as it relates to what he calls “revisable materiality” – i.e. a paradigm of thought prevalent today wherein material substances are increasingly imagined as malleable with qualities that are fully adjustable and severable. These are the surfactants, emulsifiers, binders of otherwise incompatible ingredients, and flow modifiers that absorb, disperse or work at the interface between active ingredients and different phases of matter. In Phantom Ringtone (2013) propylene glycol, one such ingredient, is used as a medium for a fragrance formulation that is intended to capture the common experience (known as “phantom ringing”) of feeling that one’s cell phone is ringing or vibrating when it is not. The abstract capacity of the cell phone as a communicative medium is distilled into a hallucinatory anticipation that then becomes the basis for a further abstraction into a fragrance formulation that “captures” the essence of this experience. The resulting smell is fleeting and non-specific; vaguely familiar and abstract; almost not there and constantly reoccurring.