• Consequences veduta dell’allestimento presso Fondazione Giuliani, Roma, 2015 Foto: Giorgio Benni
  • Consequences veduta dell’allestimento presso Fondazione Giuliani, Roma, 2015 Foto: Giorgio Benni
  • Jay Heikes, Daily Rituals (Tuesday), 2015, video; 35 min - Courtesy l’artista e Galleria Federica Schiavo, Roma, Foto: Giorgio Benni
  • Consequences veduta dell’allestimento presso Fondazione Giuliani, Roma, 2015 Foto: Giorgio Benni
  • Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Painted with Starts, 2015 tavolo da picnic in acciaio, inchiostro, ceramiche smaltate, tessuto dimensioni variabili Courtesy l’artista Foto: Giorgio Benni
  • Consequences veduta dell’allestimento presso Fondazione Giuliani, Roma, 2015 Foto: Giorgio Benni
  • Consequences veduta dell’allestimento presso Fondazione Giuliani, Roma, 2015 Foto: Giorgio Benni
  • Gedi Sibony, Fountain Feet, 2015 lattice, legno, cartone 127 x 77 x 17 cm Courtesy l’artista e Galleria Greene Naftali, New York Foto: Giorgio Benni
  • The Unknown Artist, Encore, 2014 sgabello, altoparlante, sputacchiera, colonna sonora 88 x 33 x 33 cm Courtesy l’artista Foto: Giorgio Benni
  • Justin Schlepp, L'altro è anche un fuggiasco, 2015 tessuto scolorito 120 x 150 cm Courtesy l’artista Foto: Giorgio Benni
  • Todd Norsten, How to Compromise, 2015 6 dipinti, gouache su carta 74 x 57 cm ciascuno / each Courtesy l’artista Foto: Giorgio Benni
  • Jay Heikes, Our Frankenstein (bottom), 2015 cemento, acciaio, plastica, tessuto, vernice 110 x 33 x 24 cm Courtesy l’artista e Galleria Federica Schiavo, Roma Foto: Giorgio Benni

Segue testo in italiano

Consequences, at the Fondazione Giuliani in Rome from the 10th of October until the 12th of December, is a project curated by Jay Heikes with the contribution of Felix Culpa, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Ari Marcopoulos, Josiah McElheny, Todd Norsten, Conny Purtill, Justin Schlepp, Gedi Sibony, Michael Stickrod, The Unknown Artist and the ghost of Lee Lozano.

As Jay Heikes has pointed out, Consequences should be regarded as “an attempt to continue an impulse of artistic collaboration”; therefore the show is the result of their dialogue and reciprocal fascination. They are all connected by the intent to go beyond the ordinary and repetitive actions that characterize our daily life. The outcome is indeed “a garden, a garden really American: drunk, silly, coloured and with a marginal flavour”.

Isabella Paghera for ATPdiary asked Jay Heikes some questions.  

ATP: As I could read in the press release, you drew inspiration from different sources (Lars Von Trier’s The Five Obstructions, the surrealistic Consequences, Lee Lozano’s Dropout Piece…) in order to find new and alternative creative processes. Do you think to have achieved this goal with this exhibition? And if yes, how?

Jay Heikes: It’s a good question to start, whether or not we achieve anything by altering the process of what we do for the sake of growing, or even regressing. Maybe what we achieved as a group in the year leading up to the exhibition was remaining personal and passionate to each other. And now, by bringing it all together in the foundation, we’ve created a space that is both public and private, without being too abstract and self indulgent.

ATP: I know that you are the curator of the show and that you are also an artist but I would like to understand how do you perceive yourself in this exhibition. Since it seems to me that Consequences is like a space in which you, together with other artists, explore new modes of doing and showing art. Thus, is it Consequences in some ways part of your artistic research as well?

JH: I would never call myself a curator. I’m more of a community organizer trying to be sensitive to the artists’ needs, myself included. And by including myself, there is a statement relating to movements of artists a century ago, one that is declarative and unapologetic. Consequences is not anything new in terms collaborative approaches within the history of art but it is new for us in this time and place and generates a form that is idiosyncratic, hopefully furthering our understanding of what it means to make “our work”.

ATP: Could you please explain me more about the relationship between Purtill’s Grounds and the other artworks exhibited? And how do you set up this small show dedicated to the Grounds in Consequences?

JH: Conny Purtill’s The Ground is a show within a show that is presented in the most internal space of the foundation, a triangular room that feels like a central point which all other rooms (not really) can grow from. The walls have been hand-painted with a mixture of pencil lead and gallery white to create another ground for the paintings to hang on. When Conny first started talking to me about the grounds we discussed Duchamp’s concepts of the infrathin and a space that was occupied by a thought in the internal part of a book page. So the actual material space. I was fascinated by how it opened up something I had never felt as inhabitable previously and probably inspired me to explore more of that space ever since.

ATP: In what sense “the ghost of Lee Lozano” is part of the exhibition? Are there some artworks that address her explicitly or simply her spirit informs the concept of Consequences and the single artworks as well?

JH: The ghost of Lee Lozano can only be felt in spirit. There is no wall label or explanation, so whenever anything happens in the gallery that is unexpected and mischievous we all say, “the ghost of Lee” in unison! Really it all comes from my conversations with Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer and her books on Lozano’s conversational process with other artists, specifically her book for Afterall called Dropout Piece. In it she creates an echo of how artists can possibly manage to squeeze their way out of this refined, commercial moment we find ourselves in. I think every artist should read it tonight. 

ATP: As far as I understand, it seems that in Consequences there isn’t a univocal narrative but it is like a mix of suggestions, points of view, gestures… How do you transpose this peculiarity in the setting up of the exhibition? And do you give some hints or explanations to the audience or is he/ she free to read the show in his/ her own way?

We prefer a less didactic approach so hopefully the installation is like encountering a language that is slightly familiar but difficult to comprehend quickly. A little digging is needed. Like anything, if you take the time to look at something hard enough, the harder you will look. 

Jay Heikes The Family Tree,   2003 legno,   hardware,   giacche di nylon dal New Jersey  300 x 350 x 300 cm Courtesy l’artista e Galleria Federica Schiavo,   Roma Foto: Giorgio Benni

Jay Heikes The Family Tree, 2003 legno, hardware, giacche di nylon dal New Jersey 300 x 350 x 300 cm Courtesy l’artista e Galleria Federica Schiavo, Roma Foto: Giorgio Benni

Consequences

“Consequences is an attempt to keep a collaborative artistic pulse going. As awful as that sounds and after finally scrapping the term ‘collaboration’ because of it’s overuse and shortcomings, I’m hopeful that the exhibition will display the only space we have left; one that exists amongst a small group of friends that are enamored with each other and slightly suspicious of the outside world. I was reminded of the Lars Von Trier film, The Five Obstructions while working on the early versions of the show, searching for a novel way to change the process of making something we are all too familiar with. As we grow and fall in to the repetitive rituals that create any language, there’s a danger in it becoming predictable and manneristic, even to oneself. The Surrealists knew this and tried, through their parlour game of the same name (Consequences in French) to challenge this inevitable boredom. Through chance and a simple fold, multiple authors explored what I see more and more as the foundation of our everyday thoughts; a mixture of personal narratives, layered references and fused emotions.

In 2009, Conny Purtill explained to me his desire for a method of working that he described as inefficient. To my surprise, because of how efficient he is as a human being, his desire was to transform the process of making an artwork into a challenge by first creating a ‘ground’ for another artist to receive and work on top of. With a strange combination of influence, channeling both Carl Andre and Donald Rumsfeld, Purtill’s Groundsmade their way to a number of artists who then accepted the understood contract. The results to date have been bizarre and trapped in a moment that can only be described as ‘pressurized’. To begin the transaction, a perfectly wrapped canvas arrives in the mail, once unwrapped the surface revealed rivals that of an all over material as satisfying as marble, created by painting and sanding multiple layers of gesso, India ink and graphite. The next question I’m sure every person who has ever received a Ground would have is, “Should I touch it?” Most do, and the resulting aggressions and marks have been shown together only twice previously, this exhibition being the third. In some ways, Consequences is the tree that is still growing from Conny’s seed and for that reason I asked him to put together a show within a show dedicated strictly to hisGrounds. He immediately invited me, on me inviting him, and then acting as chief curator he invited himself, along with Todd Norsten, Felix Culpa, Josiah McElheny, and Ari Marcopoulos, to be involved.

The other organizing principle for the show came about after reading Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer’s book for Afterall on Lee Lozano’s ‘Dropout Piece’ and hearing Sarah talk about her research on Lozano’s hard to formalize works. I was struck by the fact that ‘Dropout Piece’ might not have been an artwork by Lee Lozano at all but a dare or proposition to a generation of artists that could regain control of their actions, or at least die trying. The looseness of the parameters were what drew me to the idea in the first place as I had been re-fashioning a set of elements and tools to change my work, and this was again a way to change the process and like Lozano, the tools and the process became everything worth obsessing over. I am a studio artist in every sense of the daily grind and in that daily grind movements become repetitive to the point of lunacy so including The Ghost of Lee Lozano is a tribute to an artist who’s memory affects the form of everything this show is about; an irreverent misunderstanding that at times could be based more in jest than anything else.

As every show has its own narrative, this one begins with someone being angry with me, which is maybe fitting for a show that calls itself Consequences. After organizing a series of shows from 2012-2014 under the name Trieste with a group of like-minded artists, I’m so thrilled that the evolution has been harder to control and the results more satisfying, provocative and problematic. In some cases, specifically with Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Justin Schlepp and Gedi Sibony, the lead up taught me that there is a point when a single artist can overtake collaborative intentions, owning the moment, resulting in a kind of sole authorship. This alone might be the most valuable thought to take away from an experience that involved a years’ worth of slapstick interactions, ranging from the purchase of an outhouse (a two-holer) and picnic table to the use of telepathy, frogs in Denmark, a box full of cardboard and wood, a stool with something to teach us and a realization that we are each other’s dysfunctional family tree. All of the artists have been game, agreeing to a series of conditions that are by no means ideal. Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Gedi Sibony, Todd Norsten, Michael Stickrod, the Unknown Artist, Conny Purtill, Justin Schlepp, Felix Culpa, Josiah McElheny, Ari Marcopoulos, and the ghost of Lee Lozano have unknowingly created a garden together, a very American one; drunken, dumb, colorful and of marginal taste.”

- Jay Heikes

Jay Heikes,   Daily Rituals (Tuesday),   2015 video; 35 min Courtesy l’artista e Galleria Federica Schiavo,   Roma Foto: Giorgio Benni

Jay Heikes, Daily Rituals (Tuesday), 2015 video; 35 min Courtesy l’artista e Galleria Federica Schiavo, Roma Foto: Giorgio Benni

CONSEQUENCES

Fondazione Giuliani, Roma – Fino al 12 Dicembre 2015

Un progetto di Jay Heikes con contributi di Felix Culpa, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Ari Marcopoulos, Josiah McElheny, Todd Norsten, Conny Purtill, Justin Schlepp, Gedi Sibony, Michael Stickrod, The Unknown Artist e il fantasma di Lee Lozano.

“Consequences è un tentativo di mantenere un impulso di collaborazione artistica in atto. Alla fine, terribile come suonava il termine ‘collaborazione’ a causa del suo abuso e difetto, l’ho scartato sperando che la mostra riveli solo lo spazio rimasto: lo spazio esistente tra un piccolo gruppo di artisti infatuati l’uno dell’altro e che sospettano leggermente del mondo esterno. Quando stavo lavorando alle prime versioni della mostra, cercando un nuovo modo di cambiare l’abituale processo creativo, mi è venuto in mente il film Le Cinque Variazioni di Lars Von Trier. Nel modo in cui sviluppiamo e scivoliamo nei rituali ripetitivi che produce ogni linguaggio c’è il pericolo che diventi prevedibile e manieristico, anche per sé stessi. I surrealisti lo sapevano e provarono a contrastare questa noia inevitabile praticando un gioco da salotto che aveva lo stesso nome di questa mostra,  Consequences. Come nell’esempio surrealista, attraverso il caso e una semplice piega, numerosi autori hanno esplorato quello che io vedo sempre più come base delle nostre riflessioni quotidiane: un mix di narrazioni personali, riferimenti stratificati ed emozioni fuse insieme.

Nel 2009, Conny Purtill mi parlò del suo desiderio di concepire un nuovo metodo di lavoro, descrivendolo come ‘inefficiente’. Con sorpresa, dovuta al fatto che sapevo quanto fosse efficiente come persona, capii che la sua intenzione era di trasformare il meccanismo di concezione dell’opera d’arte in una sfida che prima di tutto prevedesse la realizzazione di una ‘base’ per il lavoro di un altro artista. Canalizzando una particolare combinazione d’influenze, dall’esempio di Carl Andre a Donald Rumsfeld, i Grounds di Purtill erano destinati ad un preciso numero di artisti che in seguito accettarono il sotteso contratto. Fino ad oggi il risultato è stato bizzarro e in un certo senso intrappolato in un tempo che può definirsi ‘pressurizzato’. L’inizio della trattativa era segnato dall’arrivo, tramite posta, di una tela perfettamente imballata; dopo averla scartata, la superficie scoperta rivaleggiava in quanto a pregevolezza con il marmo, ottenuta dipingendo e levigando diversi strati di gesso, inchiostro indiano e grafite. La domanda successiva, che sono certo si sia posta ogni persona che abbia ricevuto una ‘base’, è: “Posso toccarla?”. La maggior parte lo ha fatto e le aggressioni e le tracce rimaste sulle basi sono state presentate solo due volte prima di questa mostra. In un certo senso,  Consequences è come l’albero che sta ancora crescendo dai semi gettati da Conny e proprio per questa ragione gli ho chiesto di concepire insieme una mostra all’interno di una mostra strettamente dedicata ai suoi Grounds. Ci siamo quindi reciprocamente invitati e in seguito lui, come curatore, ha coinvolto sé stesso insieme a Todd Norsten, Felix Culpa, Josiah McElheny e Ari Marcopoulos.

Un altro principio organizzativo al quale s’ispira la mostra proviene dalla lettura del libro Afterall,  dedicato al lavoro Dropout Piece di Lee Lozano e dall’incontro con l’autrice del testo, Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer, che mi ha parlato del suo studio dedicato ai lavori di Lozano di difficile formalizzazione. Sono rimasto colpito dal fatto che Dropout Piece sarebbe potuta non essere affatto un’opera Lee Lozano ma piuttosto una sfida o una proposta rivolta ad una generazione di artisti che potrebbero riprendere il controllo delle proprie azioni o, come minimo, morire provando. L’approssimazione dei parametri mi ha portato in primo luogo a riflettere su come stessi rifabbricando gli elementi e gli strumenti per cambiare il mio lavoro, che esso fosse ancora un modo per cambiarne il processo e, come Lozano, che gli strumenti e il processo diventino ogni cosa da cui valga la pena essere ossessionati. Io sono un artista ‘da studio’ nel senso pieno della routine quotidiana e dei suoi movimenti ripetitivi che mi porta ad una follia tale che includere il Fantasma di Lee Lozano è un tributo a un artista la cui memoria influenza la forma di qualunque cosa riguardi questa mostra; un equivoco irriverente che potrebbe essere basato più su uno scherzo che su altro.

Come ogni mostra ha il suo racconto, questo comincia con qualcuno che si è arrabbiato con me,  conseguenzeche forse sono adatte a una mostra che ha questo titolo. Dopo aver già organizzato un ciclo di mostre, dal 2012 al 2014, intitolato Trieste,  insieme ad un gruppo di artisti sulla stessa lunghezza d’onda, sono entusiasta che la sua evoluzione sia stata più difficile da gestire e i risultati più soddisfacenti, provocatori e problematici. In alcuni casi, in particolare con Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Justin Schlepp e Gedi Sibony, durante l’organizzazione, ho compreso che c’è un momento in cui un singolo artista può scavalcare le intenzioni collaborative, prendendo posizione, dando origine a una sorta di autorialità esclusiva. Questa potrebbe essere da sola la riflessione più preziosa da trarre da un’esperienza che ha comportato un anno speso in comiche interazioni, oscillante tra l’acquisto di un gabinetto esterno e di un tavolo da pic nic ad uso telepatico, rane in Danimarca, una scatola piena di cartone e legno, uno sgabello con qualcosa da insegnarci e il rendersi conto che tracciamo l’un l’altro un anormale albero genealogico. Tutti gli artisti che sono stati al gioco, accettando una serie di condizioni affatto ideali, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Gedi Sibony, Todd Norsten, Michael Stickrod, The Unknown Artist, Conny Purtill, Justin Schlepp, Felix Culpa, Josiah McElheny, Ari Marcopoulos e il fantasma di Lee Lozano, hanno inconsapevolmente creato insieme un giardino, un giardino in stile molto americano: ubriaco, sciocco, colorato e di gusto marginale.”

- Jay Heikes

Jay Heikes,   Origins of Smut,   2015 asfalto su carta  140 x 280 cm  Courtesy l’artista e Galleria Federica Schiavo,   Roma Foto: Giorgio Benni

Jay Heikes, Origins of Smut, 2015 asfalto su carta 140 x 280 cm Courtesy l’artista e Galleria Federica Schiavo, Roma Foto: Giorgio Benni