Exhibition: History Works

B. Wurtz and Triple Canopy History Works April 14–25, 2013

Screening at 155 Freeman Street of Wurtz’s early video work and discussion with Josh Tonsfeldt and Hannah Whitaker: Wednesday, April 17, 155 Freeman St., 7-9 p.m.

Late hours and reading by poet Rachel Levitsky: Sunday, April 21, 6–8 p.m.

Bureau is pleased to announce “History Works,” an exhibition of sculptures and photographs by B. Wurtz in collaboration with Triple Canopy. Since the early 1970s, Wurtz has exploited the sculptural potential of everyday objects. Incorporating such common household items as shoelaces, plastic bags, and socks into his artwork, Wurtz recalls the familiar language of the objet trouvé but with distinctive buoyancy and humor. While his works often read as simply stated facts, this directness belies the sophisticated language of objects, and our complicated relationship to even the most modest among them. Wurtz’s work often invites comparison between things: art to non-art, the mass-produced to the handmade, and, in the case of this exhibition, a photograph to the object it represents.

“History Works” consists of three new sculptures, each paired with a photograph that distorts the scale of the object or confounds perspective, echoing the artist’s seminal Photo/Object series. These works will be accompanied by what Wurtz calls a “family of objects” collected or created by him over the decades: a rubber-band ball, a cat toy, and three objects forged by Wurtz as a child—a crude model of Mission Santa Barbara, a wooden skyscraper, and a miniscule human head. The sculptures that comprise “History Works” are inspired by these objects and their stories.

For the past several months, Wurtz has collaborated with Triple Canopy on the development of “History Works,” including an iteration of the project to be published in Triple Canopy’s online magazine in April. The online publication further advances the logic of the photographs, representing the sculptures and objects—however incompletely, or inaccurately—with digital tools, rendering them unfamiliar, embedding them in alternative visual narratives. The magazine iteration of “History Works” will also include video work made by Wurtz when he was a graduate student at California Institute of the Arts, and rarely shown publicly.

On April 17, Triple Canopy will hold a screening of Wurtz’s early videos, which offer a glimpse into the origins of his artistic practice, at 155 Freeman St., its space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Wurtz will discuss his work with artist Josh Tonsfeldt, with whom he has collaborated, and Triple Canopy contributing editor Hannah Whitaker.

B. Wurtz was born in Pasadena, California, in 1948, and now lives in New York City. His work has been exhibited at MoMA P.S.1, MCA Chicago, White Flag Projects (St. Louis), Musée d'Art Contemporain de Lyon, White Columns (New York), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), RISD Museum of Art (Providence), Corcoran Gallery (Washington, D.C.), and Castillo/Corrales (Paris). Wurtz’s solo exhibition, “Recent Works,” is on view at Metro Pictures from March 21 until April 27. 

Triple Canopy is a magazine and editorial collective based in New York, Berlin, and Los Angeles. Triple Canopy’s online publishing platform operates as the locus for the collaborative production of artistic and literary projects, research work, public programs, and print objects. Triple Canopy has participated in exhibitions and organized public programs at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the Kitchen (New York), the New Museum (New York), Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin), Artissima 18 (Turin), and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson. This summer, as part of “Expo 1: New York” at MoMA PS1, Triple Canopy will organize Speculations (“The future is ____”), a fifty-day discursive project eliciting speculative bets on the future.