For this Guest Room project, Bill Santen, Becky Brown, Rachel Goodwin, Martha Clippinger, Jess Willa Wheaton and Daniel Lichtman mold existing material into new drawing, painting, sculpture, video and performance. They observe, preserve, hoard, reconﬁgure and reenact.
Santen creates video portraits of people and objects. Like all documentarians use found rather than created subjects, he observes an immigrant ﬁsherman and reveals the ﬁnding and preserving of objects on the Bronx waterfront.
Preservation becomes hoarding in Brown’s “Safe Keeping” series, in which discarded objects are stuffed together in obsessive, futile attempts at storage. Her drawings reconﬁgure found text in the format of paper products increasingly displaced by digital substitutes.
Goodwin works with paint, wood and found materials, building paintings, collages and constructions – where form and color accumulate, stack, and interact and hold meaning creating odd, disruptive, intense arrangements that suggest both a meditative and playful visual language. Inspired by how we consume our world and dispose of it her work resuscitates the old, broken, tortured objects we live with everyday.
Clippinger is a wonderfully democratic artist who makes art out of discarded pieces of wood without fetishizing her materials. Her use of hothouse colors and repeated geometric shapes adds a further zing to her work. The sources of her wall pieces range from game boards to Mexican and Southern folk art, which she reconfigures through a sensibility informed by a love of carnival colors and a passion for the geometric abstraction, going all the way back to the Bauhaus.
Wheaton‘s work finesses unrelated found printed images into pictorial and spatial confluence, often working from trash. The painting “Fabled Age,” for example, repurposes the background of a discarded newspaper clipping (orange curtains), a clearance-priced coloring book (cloud grid), and an emptied sticker sheet found on the ground (round dial). These aged materials are melded into a new version through oil paint, and through this process seek to produce conflicted space within multiple conventions simultaneously – from Cubism to the space of a flatbed scanner.
Lichtman‘s performances, videos and installations explore the structural and emotional ways in which different kinds of amateur broadcasters imagine their audiences. Using both appropriated and improvised material, Lichtman’s work considers the specific pathos of the lone creator of self-initiated public content – the fantasy, dramatics and versions of freedom involved in producing and believing in an imagined audience.
King of the Cockroaches draws its title from an ancient Arabic preservation myth: the king is invoked as an appeal to insects and worms to refrain from nibbling on important books and scrolls. “Since manuscripts were made with ﬁsh-glue, starch-paste, leather and other tasty substances, insect appetites were a constant problem to Arabic paper.”