Exhibition: Hours and Places

Hours and Places Wojciech Bąkowski, Erica Baum, Constance DeJong April 7 - May 6 2018

Performances and closing reception: Wojciech Bąkowski & Constance DeJong Sunday, May 6 2018, 5.p.m.

In a gallery space, a black leather couch with a small black table in front of it. On top of the table is a white vintage radio. On the center wall are two pencil drawings behind tinted glass frames.

Hours and Places brings together works by three of the gallery’s artists, Wojciech Bąkowski, Erica Baum and Constance DeJong. Bąkowski’s drawings behind tinted glass, DeJong’s works on paper and re-engineered radios all weave fictions alongside the adolescent graffiti captured in Baum’s photographs. Baum’s gelatin silver prints reveal poetic patterns or accidental happenings where the idea of the "found" always remains in tension with the idea of the artist "trying to find". Whether folding over the corners of book pages or photographing collisions in card catalogues, the poetics of the accidental are always aligned with the intentional. The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard – known for a variety of devices which distance his writing from his presented text – asked how we distinguish the voice of God from a delusional hallucination. In the introduction to his first major work, Either/Or, (two volumes comparing an esthetic existence to a critically ethical one) he begins by explaining that he has found his text in the drawer of a desk: "I do not know, but this I do know - a secret door that I had never noticed before sprung open… Here, to my great amazement, I found a mass of papers, the papers that constitute the contents of the present publication." Baum’s photographic archeology of school desks are one of the artist’s first explorations into the confluences of text and image. Photographed in classrooms while the artist was in graduate school at Yale in the 1990s, Baum’s photographs are captures of day-dreams: students memorializing the liminal state of inattention as they etch their wandering thoughts into wood. Mushrooms and Greek letters appear in fields of slogans such as "Lego my Plato" or "Jen is a bitch". Text and mark-making are not attributed to the artist, just as with Kirkegaard’s playful use of pseudonyms.   Kierkegaard's dissertation was on the subject of irony. His first book, Either/Or, has four attributed authors. When the manuscript was delivered to the printers the various sections of the book featured different penmanship, just as though they had been found in a desk. Repetition, Kierkegaard’s autobiographical musing on love and time, was published under the pseudonym Constantin Constantius who relates his own thoughts alongside the story of a patient: "Repetition’s love is in truth the only happy love. Like recollection, it is not disturbed by hope nor by the marvelous anxiety of discovery, neither, however, doesn’t have the sorrow of recollection. It instead has the blissful security of the moment." A recent work of DeJong’s fiction opens with a line about recollection –"My sleep, always so lively with visits from former boyfriends..."– voiced by an insomniac staring up at the night sky through a skylight. The sleepless narrator of DeJong’s radio works goes walking, frequency-hopping the night's bandwidths. She begins forming patterns in the stars she sees. In the delirium of this action, the character finds herself writing without knowing what she is writing as the narrator’s hand scrawls "Oh Be A Fine Girl Kiss Me" (the words of a mnemonic authored by astronomer Annie Jump Cannon). Her asterisms and spirit writing gives birth to DeJong’s drawings: works on grounds of light and shadow with mark-making that explore and reference her narrative fictions. These works – which transcribe the imagined notes of female astronomers alongside the nonsensical musing of an insomniac diarist – propose the hand/writer as a kind of medium, or as a receiver of transmissions from the heavens, from history, from dreams. In the dissociative space between waking and dreaming, we are left seeking bits of recognizable writing or searching for coded signifiers, but are ultimately left with aesthetic conveyances. What sometimes looks like language in the drawings is only a ghost of meaning. "At one moment it is the obscure emotion of the wish within him which awakens recollections, at another moment he awakens them himself; for he is too proud to be willing that what was the whole content of his life should be the thing of a fleeting moment." –Fear and Trembling The exhibition’s titular work, Hours and Places, is a drawing of a housing block by Bąkowski. We see it simultaneously from top, edge, and on angle. Framed in an isometric rectangle surrounded by a black scratchy void, the block is orbited by clouds and more than one moon, as though this block were the entirety of a world, and this drawing the totality of time. Much of Bąkowski’s animation, performance, video and sculptural work has a direct relationship to the Soviet housing blocks of Poznań, and his drawings are vignettes set in this landscape. Drawn with pencil on card, and set in frames with tinted glass (similar to the amber tint of the city’s tram windows) Bąkowski’s drawings are almost memories of things heard through window-frames, or perhaps sketches of teenage dreams. The tinted glass separates us from the drawing. This barrier asks us to read the works differently than how we would normally approach a framed drawing, seeing it here through darkened glass. Kierkegaard used numerous tactics to undermine his authority as an author, and so – rather than simply contemplate what is said in each work – we can also discuss a methodology that ultimately places responsibility for finding meaning onto the reader. Though the works in this show document daydreams, or spaces of isolated reverie and recollection, they ask us to look for signifiers and establish meaning. We enter between the world of the author and the text, in a space that allows for a subjective freedom of interpretation and response, yet asks us to assume responsibility for seeing the multiplicity of angles that exist.  "I do not know, but this I do know–"

 –Andrea Merkx, March 2018

Cited texts: Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or (Enten-Eller), Repetition (Gjentagelsen) and Fear and Trembling (Frygt og Bæven), all 1843

A gallery space with two pencil drawings behind tinted glass frames. To the right is a framed black and white photograph resembling a bird's-eye view of a wooden tabletop with numerous signs and marks carved into it.
A cream-colored vintage radio placed on top of a white pedestal.

Constance DeJong, Cream Packard-Bell (Collection: In Night), 2018, re-engineered radio with amplitude-sensitive LEDs, audio, 6 ½ × 9 ¼ × 6 in.

An abstracted pencil drawing behind tinted glass in a black frame. There are musical notes, a handrail, a large building project, and a sun beams.

Wojciech Bakowski, Perspectives and Whims, 2017, pencil on board, tinted glass, 19 ⅝ × 27 ½ in.

A black and white photograph depicting a bird's-eye view of a wooden desktop with numerous, carvings or marks throughout the surface. The photograph is in a black frame.

Erica Baum, Untitled (Nietzche is Peachy), 1994, gelatin silver print, 21 ⅛ × 16 ¾ in.

A gallery space with numerous framed objects throughout. On the left wall are a series of black and white framed images resembling photographs and drawings. On the right wall are two framed black and white photographs or drawings. In the corner is a doorway with a green vintage radio to the right of it on a pedestal.
A gallery space with numerous framed objects throughout. On the left wall are two framed black and white photographs or drawings. In the corner is a green vintage radio on top of a pedestal.  On the right wall is a series of pencil drawings behind tinted glass frames.
A salon style handing of four black and white artworks resembling photographs or drawings with handwritten chalk notes at the surface. The frames are black.
On the left, a green vintage radio on top of a pedestal. To the right are two framed artworks resembling black and white drawings or photographs. Both contain handwritten writing in white.
On top of a white pedestal is vintage green radio with golden accents placed in front of a white wall.

Constance DeJong, Green Crosley (Collection: NightWalking), 2018, re-engineered radio with amplitude-sensitive LEDs, audio, 6 ½ × 12 ½ × 6 ¾ in.

In a black frame is a black and white abstracted drawing on top of a dark inkjet print. There are numerous waving lines of written text in chalk.

Constance DeJong, Caroline Herschel Annie Jump Cannon Henrietta Swan Leavitt, 2018 chalk, ink, and inkjet print on archival paper, 17 × 12 ⅝ in.

In a black frame, a series of handwritten texts in abstracted windows written in white. The paper is irregularly shaped.

Constance DeJong, PRECIPITATORs, 2017, chalk on paper, 29 ⅝ × 41 ½ in.

In a gallery space, a row of evenly spaced pencil drawings behind tinted glass frames. The frames are black. The drawings depict abstracted landscapes resembling constructed dream worlds.
Installation shot
In a black frame, a pencil drawing depicting an abstract space resembling a dreamscape. The drawing in behind tinted glass.

Wojciech Bakowski, Hours and Places, 2017, pencil on board, tinted glass, 19 ⅝ × 27 ½ in.

In a black frame, a pencil drawing depicting an abstract landscape resembling a dream world. The drawing in behind tinted glass.

Wojciech Bakowski, Phantoms of Places, 2016, pencil on board, tinted glass, 19 ⅝ × 27 ½ in.)

In a black frame, a pencil drawing depicting an abstract exterior space resembling a dream world of objects. The drawing in behind tinted glass.

Wojciech Bakowski, Construction Plan with Abstraction, 2017, pencil on board, tinted glass, 19 ⅝ × 27 ½ in.

In a gallery space, a vintage purple radio to the left of a framed artwork resembling a black and white bird's-eye view of a wooden surface with numerous engravings or marks carved into the surface. The frame is black.
On a white pedestal is a vintage purple radio with gold details in front of a white wall.

Constance DeJong, Purple General Electric (Collection: Candle Night Bedside), 2018, re-engineered radio with amplitude-sensitive LEDs, audio, 6 × 11 ½ × 6 in.

A black and white photograph depicting a bird's-eye view of a wooden desktop with numerous, carvings or marks throughout the surface. The photograph is in a black frame.

Erica Baum, Untitled (Bardo), 1994, gelatin silver print, 22 ⅝ × 17 ¼ in.

Photography by Dario Lasagni.