Josephine Meckseper at Timothy Taylor Gallery, London

During London’s Frieze week, Timothy Taylor Gallery opened its second solo exhibition with German artist Josephine Meckseper. We had a look at the show on the occasion of the Private View on October 15, 2015. The exhibition runs until November 14, 2015.

Josephine Meckseper at Timothy Taylor Gallery, London. Private View, October 15, 2015.

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Press text:

For the last two decades Meckseper’s work has interrogated politics, capitalism and art history through paradoxical juxtapositions of images and objects, in order to create open narratives. Drawn from the visual and material cultures of protest and political activism, advertising, cinema and early twentieth century display architecture, Meckseper’s combinations are visually confrontational yet subtle, relying on a strategy of infiltration, rather than describing their explicit position. The resulting tension, produced by the relationship between the conceptual structure and the thoroughly executed finished object, creates a distinct visual language that Meckseper continues to expand upon in this exhibition.

Central to this new body of work is the investigation of the object as an analogue recording device. Found materials (such as detritus from the street and ephemera from experiential social interactions) record temporal environments or situations. This is realised through a variety of media ranging from wall vitrines, shelves, denim assemblages and abstract sculptures comprised of industrial display racks. Recalling Rosalind Krauss’s assertion that “the history of modern sculpture is incomplete without discussion of the temporal consequences of a particular arrangement of form,” Meckseper’s works exemplify the statement “that sculpture is a medium peculiarly located at the juncture between stillness and motion, time arrested and time passing. From this tension, which defines the very condition of sculpture, comes its enormous expressive power.”

The exhibition simultaneously documents a moment in time, while also acknowledging the larger social condition of transience. Whereas in previous exhibitions, films such as Mall of America (2009) and super-8 films of protestors were crucial elements, now the precursory cinematic and narrative aspect that led to the accumulation of Meckseper’s found objects is played out in a predominantly static form. Narrative is a leftover, which creates a distinction between reflection and representation and extends the notion of appropriating objects (readymade) to an act of salvation. Painted traces of film perforation create an affinity to the ‘frame’ in cinematography, in particular Jean-Luc Godard’s Film-tract no 1968, in which he recorded red paint running over a French flag and pages of the newspaper Le Monde.

Expanding upon one of art’s key motifs, the window is a device through which Meckseper realises new works for this exhibition. The window frame becomes a vehicle to convey a perspective of the world inside and outside the studio. Deriving from the artist’s well-established wall vitrines and sculptures, accumulated objects and ephemera – recycled studio materials, various items salvaged from the street or obtained from now extinct local stores – are located within a new series of window vitrines. This method of simultaneously revealing and concealing summons Duchamp’s Fresh Widow (1920), a blacked-out window authored by Duchamp’s female alter ego, Rrose Sélavy, and is significant in its ambivalence – positioned somewhere between painting and sculpture.

In the tradition of late twentieth century installation art, the works in this exhibition are produced through the remains of action. Instead of a prescribed happening however, the works perform the everyday. As individual works they function as apertures into the same idea from different points of view, and as an exhibition, create a total work.

Josephine Meckseper’s large-scale installations and films have been exhibited in various biennials and museum shows worldwide. Her works are in the permanent collections of numerous institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Migros Museum, Zurich. This year her works were featured in Storylines, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Zabludowicz Collection: 20 Years, London, and are currently on view in America Is Hard to See, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The artist lives and works in New York.

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