“Feedback” opens Saturday, June 5th at The School. Jack Shainman Gallery
Kerry James Marshall, To Be Titled (Exquisite Corpse Bike), 2021
We are thrilled to announce that The School will reopen with Feedback, organized by Helen Molesworth, on Saturday, June 5, 2021. The School will be open to the public from 11am-6pm. Please note there will not be an opening reception this year. The gallery will continue to take the following health and safety precautions. Please do not come to the gallery if you are feeling unwell. All visitors and staff will be required to wear a mask at all times while in The School. Hand sanitizer will be available at the gallery entrance. Please observe social distancing guidelines of six feet with all other visitors and staff.
SANFORD BIGGERS DIEDRICK BRACKENS JOHN BUCK JANET CARDIFF & GEORGE BURES MILLER KARON DAVIS TAYLOR DAVIS ROY DOWELL MUNA EL FITURI KOHSHIN FINLEY CHRISTINA FORRER LAUREN HALSEY EJ HILL STEVE LOCKE KERRY JAMES MARSHALL TYLER MITCHELL HILARY PECIS DANA SHERWOOD ROSE B. SIMPSON CAULEEN SMITH BECKY SUSS LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE
Several years ago, I had an encounter with Janet Cardiff’s sound installation, Feedback. I stood in a room by myself and fiddled around tentatively with the wah wah peddle, slowly gaining the courage to put the pedal to the metal and brace myself for the sound explosion that happened next. “Damn!” I thought, “I gotta find a way to do something with this.” This exhibition is my rejoinder, my response to her call.
Thank god for the mess that is Wikipedia. (Even though I’ve tried multiple times, to no avail, to change the errors in the Wikipedia entry that bears my name.) I sure hope the entry on “feedback” is correct:
Feedback occurs when outputs of a system are routed back as inputs as part of a chain of cause-and-effect that forms a circuit or loop. The system can then be said to feed back into itself. The notion of cause-and-effect has to be handled carefully when applied to feedback systems:
Simple causal reasoning about a feedback system is difficult because the first system influences the second and second system influences the first, leading to a circular argument. This makes reasoning based upon cause and effect tricky, and it is necessary to analyze the system as a whole.
— Karl Johan Åström and Richard M.Murray, Feedback Systems: An Introduction for Scientists and Engineers.
Even though The School was built in 1929, when I first walked across its threshold in the summer of 2018 I was overwhelmed by a kind of auditory hallucination. I swore I could still hear the din of the kids, running, laughing, shouting, breathing, playing—moving all that air and energy around with their young rambunctious, soft bodies. As I moved through the beautifully renovated spaces an exhibition began to form in my head.
How do we learn? Where do we learn? What do we learn? Somewhere along the line, I don’t remember how or when, I learned about the history of America. So many of the stories I was told left out so many of the pertinent details that now much of what I once thought of as history feels like a miscarriage of justice.
I loved school. I hated school. I learned a lot that wasn’t necessarily being “taught.” Like from watching people, from looking at things. I was the kind of kid who liked to touch stuff. Early on I had ideas about beauty and color, texture and sound. I was keenly attuned to space. What was I learning—about America, about myself, about society—when I was daydreaming in school, or playing tag in the yard, or picking flowers?
Feedback is filled with art works by artists who I’ve been following for a while. In other words, artists I “like” and who I have asked to gather together today to form an assembly, a class, a chorus. I was curious about what kind of knowledge we might be able to produce together. Some of the artists are interested in the twisted history of America. Others are interested in the persistence of quotidian pleasures as best exemplified by still life or contemporary tableaux of everyday life. Some artists have combined their sense of America’s untold narratives with the gentle ebb and flow of daily life. Some are sharing their daydreams, others their nightmares. Everywhere there is attention to craft, the handmade, the body. Each artist plays with the building blocks of visual art: color, light, shape, texture, material, improvisation, form. Together, the works on view offer a microcosm, a snapshot in time, of the feedback loop that is culture—people make things that help us learn things, that allow us to think things, that help us to ask questions, that propel us to make things. Feedback plays with what happens when the eternal return of the same is also the eternal return of difference. (Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…) Feedback toggles back and forth between the past, present, and the future (working to keep the cynicism at bay), by stoking the small and tender fires of each artist’s experience of the feedback loop called America.
-Helen Molesworth, curator
Concurrently on view at Jack Shainman Gallery is Anti/Body, at 513 West 20th Street and Leslie Wayne, The Universe is on the Inside, at 524 West 24th Street through July 3. Upcoming exhibitions include Diedrick Brackens at 513 West 20th Street, opening July 8.
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