Installation shots from Paris
The Fifth Hammer opens at Galerie Christophe Gaillard in Paris Nov 16th
The Fifth Hammer
November 16, 2013 – January 11, 2014
Opening reception Saturday, November 16 6 – 9pm
Galerie Christophe Gaillard presents Hannah Whitaker’s first solo exhibition in Paris, “The Fifth Hammer.” On view is a selection of new photographic works ranging from landscapes shot in Louisiana and Costa Rica, staged portraits, and still lifes of mundane objects.
Whitaker’s photographs start with organizing principles ranging from visual patterning, to repetitive motions, to number systems, to the structures of John Cage’s musical compositions. In each photograph, Whitaker presents an overt rationale—represented visually by a grid, a pattern, or repetition across several photographs—while undermining this logic with mistakes, randomness, imperfection, and messiness.
The exhibition marks Whitaker’s increasing focus on the space inside the photographic apparatus. She uses a 4x5-inch view camera, which allows for a film plane large enough to be manipulated by hand. She makes use of hand-cut paper screens to disrupt or transform the photographic process, defying the integrity of the technical image. Deploying these screens at various points in the process of exposing film, she at times shoots through them for one or multiple exposures and, at other times, uses them to leak light directly onto the film. Using these in-camera techniques, she often layers different visual languages within a single image, placing the geometric alongside the photographic, the handmade alongside the technical, and the flat alongside the dimensional. As a result, objects and spaces are articulated both through recognizable photographic means and also as artifacts of the screens themselves—spots of light leaks, or shapes defined by a cut in the paper screen.
With an emphasis on the syncopated linearity of counting, Whitaker’s photographs provide a rhythm to the action of looking at a photograph, like the motion of reading. Drawing from Gertrude Stein’s writing and Anni Albers’s textiles, she establishes patterns of repetitive strategies that are defied as quickly as they are established. Whitaker is interested in the coded and politicized histories of patterns and geometric abstraction in both fine and vernacular arts. In Water Water Water, for example, she employs the modular logic of traditional American quiltmaking. In the Limonene works, she extracts a visual language rooted in abstract painting from litter collected off the streets of Miami. The Red works are excerpted from a larger project comprised of thirty-six re-photographed photographs based on a sequence of numbers.
Unlike in previous bodies of work, the subject matter in “The Fifth Hammer” is decidedly banal. While her photographs are made via unconventional means, what they depict is in line with conventional uses of photography—they document her personal life and travels. Whitaker’s emphasis on the conditions for making these works belie the actual experience of looking at her photographs, such as in 255, which derives its strength not from the grid that obscures a woman’s gaze into the lens but in spite of it.
The exhibition takes its title from a story told by Boethius about Pythagorus. In it, Pythagorus stumbles upon a forge from which he could hear the harmonious sounds of hammers banging against rock. By comparing the weight of each hammer to the sound it produced, he deduced the principles of musical harmony—thus quantifying an aesthetic phenomenon. The fifth hammer, however, was discordant with all others, and so Pythagorus discarded it. The story points to the limits of logic rationale to explain the world, much the way that images disrupt linear thinking in favor of nonsensical or paradoxical modes of thought.
12, rue de Thorigny 75003 Paris
01 42 78 49 16
People in London for Frieze week: there will be two events around Eve vs Duchamp, a 3-person show I’m in curated by Kevin Moore, at Brancolini Grimaldi.
Thursday Oct 17th, 6 - 8pm
Reception with the artists and curator
Saturday Oct 19th
12 - 2pm: Brunch
2 - 3pm: Curator-led walkthrough
43-44 Albemarle Street
Eve Plays Duchamp at Brancolini Grimaldi in London
Eve Plays Duchamp
curated by Kevin Moore
Oct 4 - Nov 19, 2013
Brancolini Grimaldi announces Eve Plays Duchamp, a group exhibition of three American artists - Tricia Lawless Murray, Heidi Snow and Hannah Whitaker - each working in a vein of feminist-inflected neo-Surrealism. The show is curated by Kevin Moore, an independent scholar and curator based in New York.
Establishing an historical basis for the exhibition, Kevin Moore writes:
"In 1963 the Pasadena Museum of Art hosted the first American retrospective of Marcel Duchamp. A stunt coinciding with the exhibition involved a young woman named Eve Babitz, who sat naked in the gallery for a chess match with the 76-year old Duchamp in front of one his most iconic works, Large Glass (1915 - 1925). If the goal of chess is "to mate," the tableau vivant of Eve Babitz and Duchamp effectively activated the Large Glass, "performing" that work’s themes of coupling and sublimated desire, nuanced in the work’s full title, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even."
"While historical Surrealism has been criticized for its sexist treatment of women, the presence of Eve Babitz, sitting comfortably naked opposite one of the great masters of 20th-century art, challenges Surrealist ideas of patriarchal dominance. By 1963, many of the traditional social hierarchies referenced by historical Surrealism were being challenged and eroded. This was true for art-making as well, and in that sense Eve Babitz might be seen as representing feminist-based art practices to come: a woman playing to traditional roles yet turning the tables by embracing the themes and strategies of an older generation of male artists to rebellious and provocative effect. Eve is stripped bare, but on her own terms, so we might call the match now even."
Also at NYABF is my numerically-based zine project with Conveyor Arts. It’s the first in their series of artist zines based on colors of the spectrum.
Check out this new book published by Lodret Vandret At the New York Art Book Fair this weekend at PS1. I haven’t actually seen it yet but am certain it’s worth seeking out.
ON THE BEACH, 2013
Works by: Aaron Hegert, Rob Kulisek, Arnaud Lajeunie and Hannah Whitaker
Release: September 19 @ NYABF
Colour offset printing
Edition of 300, 56 pages
Edit and design by Lodret Vandret
Published by Vandret Publications
Unique cover robot drawing by PenPlotRobot
I shot this cover story. Poor poor bees
New agent too. (Big week!)