Art : Concept

Adam McEwen

24 Oct - 06 Dec 2014

Adam McEwen, Non-Alignment Pact, from 24-10-2014 to 06-12-2014
Non-Alignment Pact
24 October – 6 December 2014

Art : Concept gallery inaugurates the third solo exhibition by Adam McEwen, in which the artist will present a set of new pieces.

The three works in this show, Conduit, Equalizing Ramp and Instrument, share a relationship to the body. Conduit, a steel pipe inserted through an office chair, imagines a vertical channel that penetrates a seated form; Equalizing Ramp, a 5.5 meter sloping ramp placed against the wall beneath four repeated newspaper pages, is a simple method of moving the viewer’s eye level up or down; and Instrument, a plastic chair with its feet embedded in beer cans and its seat crudely cut out, implies a body which is trapped: trapped by the feet or by the obscure intention behind the cutting action on the chair.

All three works envisage the maker or artist and the pitfalls associated with making. Equalizing Ramp takes the viewer to or from, closer to or farther from, a functional viewpoint: an eye-level that allows easy reading of the page on the wall, depending on the viewer’s height. It appears to be a democratizing tool.

The repeated page is a double-page spread from the New York Times that appeared in 2012. The two main features on these pages are, on the left, a story about Jimmy Saville, the British television personality who over four decades was beloved and celebrated for his charity work with young children, and who after his death was revealed to be a serial child abuser and paedophile; and on the right, a story recounting the discovery in an English farmhouse of the skeleton of a carrier pigeon from World War 2, along with a piece of paper bearing a message written in secret code to prevent it being understood by the enemy.

These stories touch on themes that appear repeatedly in McEwen’s work: histories that linger beneath the surface and refuse to disappear; obscured and painful facts that hide in plain sight; codes designed to cause misdirection and misunderstanding.

The title Conduit refers to a pathway and to the artist as a transmitter of inspiration from above. But the smooth channel of the metal pipe that penetrates the chair implies also a disemboweling of the chair’s occupant. If something was expressed by this meeting of elements, it is unclear whether it would be the result of inspiration or defecation, a fulfilling or an emptying out.

The title Instrument has echoes of the Biblical notion of the spokesperson of God: the prophet as humble tool and mere instrument of a higher power. But the word “instrument” here seems to refer to the chair as an instrument of torture, a seat that is itself trapped and traps its subject in some kind of castrating embrace.

All three works consider the myth or dream of the artist as creative entity, and examine this idea with a combination of ironic detachment and sincere longing.

Adam McEwen, born in 1965 in London, lives and works in New York. Personal exhibitions: Factory Tint, Capitan Petzel, Berlin (2014); Sawney Bean, The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2013); Rehabilitating the Steinway Tube Ducts, Rodolphe Janssen Gallery, Bruxelles (2013); The Goss & Michael Foundation, Dallas (2012); Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills (2011); The House of Marlon Brando, Art : Concept, Paris (2011). Group Exhibitions: Love Story, Die Samlung Anne und Wolfgang Titze, 21er Haus, Belvedere, Vienna (2014); Wanted, Selected Works from the Mugrabi Collection, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv (2013). Curatorial project: Fresh Hell, carte Blanche à Adam McEwen, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2010).

Tags: Adam McEwen