Jen Liu, Joanna Piotrowska, Jesse Wine – LAST WEEKEND
It is with great pleasure that Simone Subal Gallery presents a group exhibition featuring works by Jen Liu, Joanna Piotrowska, and Jesse Wine. All three artists question the stability of established political or biological systems, blur domestic and bodily architectures, and re-envision new forms of agency. They believe that the manner in which bodies interact and create within manmade space is inherently political—whether an individual manipulates personal belongings in their own living space, or a collective workforce executes a preordained system of industrial production, or an anthropomorphic object poetically merges with architectural elements. These various actions question the limits of our collective and individual subjectivity, and posit the possibility of rethinking or revolting against overdetermined societies.
Jen Liu’s paintings and video examine contemporary forms of “empowerment” that are invariably linked to structures of manipulation and economic control. In the paintings on view, large feminine fingers manipulate a variety of objects. The images allude to ideas of “soft power,” “charm offensives,” and even the tutorials for the multi-touch gestures on Mac computers. The images suggest that whatever power an individual might feel when using consumer-grade technology is dwarfed in comparison to the implied societal power mechanisms far greater and insidious than any individual. This illusion of agency continues in Liu’s video The Pink Detachment I, which reimagines the ballet The Red Detachment of Women – one of the Eight Model Plays during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in China.
Johanna Piotrowski’s black and white silver gelatin photographs begin with a fundamental idea. The body and its gestures have been prominent themes in her work, and in many ways her images capture a sort of performance—they create the sense of an act frozen in time, a move that intensifies her searingly visceral photos. Her series, Shelter, shot on location in Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro, and Warsaw, depict a single person taking cover inside a tent the subject constructed out of sheets, curtains, and pieces of furniture. All the photos are taken indoors, producing a doubling. The haphazard structures are oddly sculptural and precarious. The individuals and their poses appear vulnerable and out of sync with their surroundings—a visual and poetic rendering of the greater feeling of anxiety and discontinuity plaguing our current moment.
Jesse Wine’s latest ceramic sculptures take sleep as an ultimate state of vulnerability. Most pieces show a reclining head resting atop a surreal architectural structure. The head, though, is more of a mask, as Wine leaves the back of the head exposed. The hallowed head is made into a place of its own, in one instance, to store loose change, just as the base of a ceramic building is strewn with junk mail sent to Wine’s Brooklyn studio. Much of this work deals with the various ways consumerism and societal pressure govern all aspects of life. And yet sleep, for the moment at least, escapes these encroachments; it is a respite—quite literally—from the onslaught of everyday life. Wine’s delicately constructed works take the seeming vulnerability of the sleeper and imbue it with somnolent agency, playing with the way, for example, those asleep often directly affect the actions of those awake, the way dreams often beget possibilities.
Jen Liu (New York, 1976), lives and works in New York. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include: Singapore Biennale (2019); Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam (2018); Bogor Zoology Museum, Bogor, Indonesia (2017); LAXART, Los Angeles (2016); SomoS, Berlin (2016); and a co-commissioned performance by Triple Canopy and the Whitney Museum, New York (2015). Selected group exhibitions include: Paul Robeson Galleries at Rutgers University, New Jersey (2019); Times Museum Guangzhou, China (2019); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2018); bitforms, New York (2018); Asia Art Archive, New York (2018); Akademie der Kunst, Berlin (2016); New Museum, New York (2015); and Abrons Art Center, New York (2015). In 2018, Liu was awarded the Art + Technology Lab Award by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California.
Joanna Piotrowska (Warsaw, Poland, 1985), lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include: Dawid Radziszewski Gallery, Art Basel Statements (2017); Southard Reid, London (2017); Galeria Madragoa, Lisbon (2016); and Ethnographic Museum, Krakow, Poland (2015). Selected group exhibitions include: MoMA, New York (2018); 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Berlin, (2018); Kunstalle Wien, Vienna (2018); Museum Marres, Maastricht, (2018); Gateway, Abu Dhabi, (2018); Sadie Coles, London (2017); Fondazione Prada Osservatorio, Milan (2016); Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art, Sunderland, U.K. (2015); Hayward Gallery, London (2014); and ICA, London (2013). In 2014 MACK Books published her first project, Frowst, and in 2017 Humboldt Books published her second publication, Frantic. Piotrowska will have solo exhibitions at the Tate Britain in London and at Kunsthalle Basel this year.
Jesse Wine (Chester, England, 1983), lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include: Simone Subal Gallery, New York (2017), Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, The Netherlands (2016); Mary Mary, Glasgow, Scotland, UK (2016); and Soy Capitán, Berlin (2016). Selected group exhibitions include: Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, Rio de Janeiro (2017); Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida (2017); Battersea Power Station and CASS Sculpture Foundation – Powerhouse Commission, London (2017); TATE St Ives, Cornwall (2017); Parrasch Heijnen, Los Angeles (2017); Museum of Cambridge, Cambridge (2017); Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (2017); Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, (2016); and Fundament Foundation, Tilburg, The Netherlands (2016). Jesse will have his first institutional solo show in the United States at SculptureCenter in New York in 2020.