B O R D E R S looks at the concept of the border in the world at large and its links with the vocabulary of art making and the language of art – painting, sculpture, drawing, film and installation, as well as everything else in between these borders.
The exhibition takes its cue from the circumscribed nature in which it takes place and the means by which it is viewed. Curated for ARTUNER, an online platform viewed digitally, this exhibition asks whether such a context poses yet another border in which to discover and experience art, or whether it pushes out borders that already exist, particularly as it concerns the experience of an artwork in relation to its presentation.
Within the framework of the exhibition, the artworks being presented both point to what delineates a border and examine how a work of art can paradoxically both set up and break down boundaries. Some of the artworks created for the exhibition outwardly bypass the existing and traditional boundaries of spectatorship, while others set up borders to open out new readings of works by the other participating artists. In addition, ideas are questioned which lay at the heart of the context in which the exhibition takes place, namely issues of reproduction, mediation and access.
The structure of B O R D E R S also disrupts the normative framework of exhibitions and presentations, situating it between the borders that distinguish and characterise solo and group shows. Each week will bring a different artist and a new group of artworks will be introduced, with intermissions to be announced along the way. Accompanying this will be texts on the artists’ works and interviews. These will sit in close relationship with each presentation, as the artist and artworks are spotlighted for an allotted duration of time before they become part of an overall exhibition.
Gabriele De Santis introduces works that mine the borders of language, art history and our perception. With his special brand of humour, they mix together art making and curatorial strategy, and make a concerted leap to escape beyond boundaries and conventions. Sol Calero’s creations are similarly vibrant, but their content is distinctively different. While their ability to seduce seems to be their main mode of operation, and indeed their surfaces border on being undeniably compelling, they play with notions of representation, identity and marginalization, informed by her South American background and her own migration. Calero’s askance and almost ironic stance on cultural content becomes heightened in the work of Dan Rees, specifically art history and established motifs. While some of his paintings in the exhibition point to work by other artists, particularly that of Daniel Buren, they escape outside the frame of his predecessors as well their frame of reference. His works in the exhibition read one context and transfer it to another.
Formal and conceptual elegance is also central to the work of Oliver Osborne, oscillating, as it does, between abstraction, found imagery and deadpan photorealism. His images, mostly taken from old European textbooks, generate an effect both surreal and familiar. They suggest a bygone era, though they remain deliberately difficult to pin down. In one work included in the show a character seems to slip outside of the picture, but the action remains internal, mirrored and repeated. The other, the arrest, implies a transgression, the crossing of a moral and social border.
Jonathan Monk’s trio of pieces follows his characteristic approach to art-making where high and low meet, the past and present combine, and presence is replaced with absence and vice versa. Taking inspiration from Italian artist Alighiero e Boetti, two works reference Boetti’s iconic series of works titled ‘Mappa’. Monk’s sculptures continue Boetti’s evocation of geographical borders – what distinguishes the globe and our countries both physically and otherwise – but pits them up against today’s reality. Against this backdrop, one piece by Monk is a shade for light, while his other uses light to mark its surface. In another work by the artist, a border or a frame is suggested, where the piece should ideally be hung to the right of something red and the left of something green or purple.
In a similar fashion, Nina Beier’s pieces stake out another, physical, and her case architectural space, and play with the object in relation to their documentation and presentation. Equally, the work of James Clarkson meddles with surface and object, the external and internal. With the incisions and alterations he makes to his materials, Clarkson points to their origins while unearthing entirely new readings and possibilities. In a similar manner Alek O. transfers the familiar into new, uncharted territory. A parasol becomes a dog; a sweater becomes a monochrome. Her works sit in between the borders of painting and sculpture, and with paradoxical intent both show and conceal markings of their previous existence and treatment.
Brad Grievson also deals with the concept of transferal – from one area to the next and from one arena to another. Monochromatic, his paintings luxuriate in surface and detail. They remain still, and yet also appear to move outside of the boundary of the canvas, especially when considering their materiality and origin. Stephen Felton’s practice entirely focuses in on borders. His paintings cast outlines, stripped, in their boldness, of any detail. They bring together a unique visual language that often traverses the canvas to include the stretcher and the floor. Cologne based artist David Ostrowski investigates how borders can be set up, expanded and finally abolished within abstract painting. His seemingly stochastic interventions with a spray can create tense delineations on the blank canvas.