Gerber’s work relies on other artworks or artifacts and our sense of the history associated with them for much of its meaning. His work has long focused on the normative aspects of visual language: the way we, as part of a shared culture, accept certain forms, colors and situations as institutional, or we take them for granted as impartial common ground. These visual norms act as grounds for all other forms of expression and we use them to register difference and create meaning. In many instances Gerber’s work has literally functioned as the ground for other artists’ expression. In this exhibition, he exclusively uses other artists’ work as a normative ground against which his, and our own expressions are recognized.
Gerber’s exhibition directly acknowledges the process of art coming from art, with the artist’s own expression often being as much action as object. While Gerber’s work is attentive to the qualities of each object as well as the gesture of representing them as art, his attitude towards existing objects differs from most artistic uses of readymades. Gerber’s Supports are not simply repurposed or copied objects; rather they make themselves understood as fundamentally normative works of art. In this way, Gerber’s practice embraces deviation as part of life rather than an adversity, emphasizing the objects’ continued presence and perceptual and embodied engagement.
The Supports belong to the realist tradition in art that is inclined towards accepting the world as it is. While they might even be seen as part of the tradition of trompe-l’oeil, Gerber’s literal imposition of the ground onto the object dramatically amends our understanding of the original object so that his Supports reflect a multiplicity of perceptions, playing on our understanding of history and how it frames ideas of difference and shapes the way reality is perceived, while at the same time probing the ways in which we ascribe value. For example, the surfaces that helped to define the iconic Coca-Cola contour bottle and the 10th century Persian bowl with a Kufic inscribed moral proverb, as well as the piece of 2337 West Monroe Street in Chicago, have been replaced by an alternate surface. In all of the Supports the original representation has been replaced with a homogeneous value. The associations of this are explicit in the history of the monochrome and alternate aspects of the Supports readily become apparent. The implications are existential and paradoxical: the everyday is reaffirmed, yet given its transitory quality, the significance of pursuing that repetition seems tenuous.
Gerber has exhibited widely including recent projects at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, Austria; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York; and The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.