Transmitter is pleased to present In Search Of, an exhibition pairing the work of Aidan Koch and Dawit L. Petros, two artists who, despite their disparate media, take related approaches to pictorial space in order to create open-ended narratives, notable as much for the space within them as for the connections between different moments. Taking its title from Bas Jan Ader's In Search of the Miraculous, this exhibition considers these artists' work in terms of questions and histories of migration, and the search, whether for the sublime or for survival, which underlies human movement. In addressing these issues, Koch and Petros both make significant use of abstraction, and range in their interests from a mythological past to the factual present, and beyond, to the possible future. The comics and sculpture of Aidan Koch consider migration in terms of both ancient mythology and ambiguously dystopian future. One of these narratives follows Leto, daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe of Greek mythology, as she travels through ancient Lycia seeking water for her children Artemis and Apollo. In this work, part of a large commission project by Margaret Tolbert called Proje Su / Springs Project, Koch uses abstraction to both undercut the linearity of narrative and to emphasize her characters' subjectivity.
Abstraction plays a similar role in selections from a current story in progress, in which fields of vivid color punctuate and give structure to moments in the life of a people living in the aftermath of an unspecified drastic change. The photographs of Dawit L. Petros depict people in transition, either at such a distance that they become elements of landscape or, as in A series of complicated ambivalences, Bamako, Mali, cropped so close as to render them individually unidentifiable, icons of movement simultaneously entering and exiting the frame of the photograph. In Act of Recovery (Part I), Nouakchott, Mauritania, a group of people gather around a beached ship, the monumentality of the image reflecting the ship's stasis. It's unclear just what the recovery of the title refers to; is the ship being recovered by the people or the sea? Yet in this uncertainty, we also see a a rare moment of rest, regardless of whether it occurs in the wake of catastrophe or in advance of work still to be done.
Aidan Koch is an artist and graphic novelist working in New York. She received a degree in illustration from the Pacific NW College of Art in Portland, OR in 2009. Along with releasing several graphic novels including Xeric Award winner The Blonde Woman, The Whale, and Impressions, her fine art has been exhibited in Paris, Dallas, Los Angeles, as well as The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. A collection of her short comics titled After Nothing Comes was released in 2016 by Koyama Press.
Dawit L. Petros is a visual artist born in Eritrea and based in New York City and Chicago. Working with installation, photography, research and extensive travels, his practice centers around a critical rereading of the relationship between African histories and European modernism. Upcoming exhibitions include: Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp, New Orleans; Bamako Encounters Biennalle 2017, Bamako, Mali; Dakar Biennale 2018, Dakar, Senegal. Recent exhibitions include: Walther Collection Project Space, New York (2016); Huis Marseille, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2016); Kansas City Art Institute (2016); 56th Venice Biennale international exhibition (2015), Tiwani Contemporary, London (2016) the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY (2014), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2014), the National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC (2013), and the Lianzhou International Photo Festival, China (2011). He was awarded an Independent Study Fellowship at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2012. Dawit L. Petros is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.