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Deep Space (insides) 

Harm van den Dor­pel, VALIE EXPORT, Rochelle Gold­berg, Dan Gra­ham, Calla Henkel and Max Pite­goff, Josh Kline, Car­los Reyes

Joe Sheftel 

28 October -- 16 December 2012

I’m sit­ting on a knock-off Kjaer­holm couch in the pala­tial foyer of a sky­scraper in the Finan­cial Dis­trict, wait­ing to be called into a job inter­view. This is the first time I’m out of the house by 9:00 AM in what may be years. Sit­ting, wait­ing. Watch­ing. A white woman walks by wear­ing a bur­gundy cardi­gan and the same close­out TJ Maxx pen­cil skirt I have on. A His­panic guy wear­ing all denim walks by. That plant has to be fake. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as alone as I do in this moment. Alien­ation here, alien­ation there. Alone together.

At home, I take a nap and wake up spoon­ing my lap­top. Or was it spoon­ing me? My sil­ver girl­friend. Has that ever hap­pened to you?

I broke up with him because he could only cop­u­late with me as if we were act­ing in a porn. Even my bed is a con­tested space.

Joe Shef­tel Gallery is pleased to announce Deep Space (insides), a group exhi­bi­tion curated by Karen Archey. The exhi­bi­tion brings together works con­sid­er­ing the psy­cho­log­i­cal effects of built space. Here, the metaphor of phys­i­cal and vir­tual archi­tec­ture is used to con­tem­plate how such struc­tures affect our quo­tid­ian lives and emo­tional states, while med­i­tat­ing on notions of pri­vacy and vis­i­bil­ity. Ques­tions prompt­ing Deep Space (insides) include: Where am I able to be seen, and where can I be invis­i­ble? What infor­ma­tion about myself is truly pri­vate? What has changed in the man­ner in which we speak about our­selves? Where can we rest? Par­tic­i­pat­ing artists include Harm van den Dor­pel, VALIE EXPORT, Rochelle Gold­berg, Dan Gra­ham, Calla Henkel and Max Pite­goff, Josh Kline, and Car­los Reyes. Open­ing Octo­ber 28th, the exhi­bi­tion runs through Decem­ber 16th, 2012.

Harm van den Dorpel’s Ethe­real Oth­ers begins with his pop­u­lar web­site When vis­it­ing Ethe­real Self, the viewer is prompted to allow the site access to his or her web­cam, which in turn splin­ters their vis­age into a diamond-like pat­tern. Unbe­knownst to most, this web­site is a con­duit to, which culls screen­shots of all vis­i­tors to Ethe­real Self in a pub­lic archive. The video Ethe­real Oth­ers (When No One is Look­ing) brings together screen­shots in which the users’ web­cams were left on, offer­ing us an extended look into the domes­tic and occa­sional insti­tu­tional inte­ri­ors of oth­ers.

Obscured by a tight crop­ping, Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff’s pho­to­graph depicts the back of a woman sat at a com­puter. Toy­ing with notions of voyeurism and sur­veil­lance, Henkel and Pite­goff expose a moment of simul­ta­ne­ous inti­macy and con­nec­tiv­ity. Sim­i­larly an androg­y­nous body as its sub­ject, VALIE EXPORT’s 1989 mono­chro­matic dig­i­tal col­lage Stadt, splices the back of a fig­ure, super­im­pos­ing it with archi­tec­tural com­po­nents resem­bling city blocks. An early exam­ple of dig­i­tal col­lage, this pho­to­graph reads as both vio­lent and lugubri­ous, sug­gest­ing the pas­sive sub­sump­tion of the depicted person’s will to indomitable forces.

Dan Graham’s set of pho­tographs, Fam­ily Groups at “Telethon House,” Perth, Aus­tralia, 1985, and Model House, Bed­room Inte­rior, Perth, Aus­tralia, 1987, employ anar­chis­tic humor to med­i­tate on pri­vate and pub­lic space, specif­i­cally through the pecu­liar locus of the model home. In the top photo, an uncan­nily American-looking fam­ily vis­its a house to be auc­tioned via telethon in Perth, Aus­tralia, while the bot­tom pho­to­graph com­bines the reflec­tion of an out­side envi­ron­ment with the sac­cha­rine, rabbit-tchotchke-infested bed­room inte­rior of a model home. Here, the inher­ently pri­vate space of the home is man­i­fested to exist, with mass appeal, in pub­lic space—the con­ven­tions of home­mak­ing and inte­rior décor laid bare by Graham’s pen­e­tra­tive gaze.

Rochelle Goldberg’s series of screen prints appro­pri­ates imagery from a found Kohler faucet cat­a­log, each adver­tise­ment jux­ta­pos­ing dry bod­ies, text, water, and lux­ury bath­room fix­tures. Gold­berg lays pho­tographs of her­self as a child in her family’s bath­room upon the mass-mediated images of bod­ies prof­fered by Kohler. The artist then processes them with a dys­func­tional Xerox machine found out­side the stu­dio of artist and archi­tect Vito Acconci—an ode of sorts to his Con­ver­sions series of the early 1970s. A com­ple­men­tary sculp­tural piece, Access, 2012, builds on this for­mal vocab­u­lary, mak­ing ref­er­ence to a basin or trough.

Josh Kline’s Share the Health sim­i­larly riffs off the inte­rior archi­tec­ture of the bath­room with three non-domestic soap dis­pensers. Filled with nutri­ent gel, the institutional-looking dis­pensers act as repos­i­to­ries for mold and bac­te­ria orig­i­nat­ing in sam­ples col­lected in the neigh­bor­hood of the gallery from phar­ma­cies such as Rite Aid and CVS. With a lit­tle dark, exis­ten­tial humor endemic to con­sis­tently exas­per­ated New York­ers, Kline con­t­a­m­i­nates the site where we’d look for steril­ity or even a respite, explod­ing both clean/dirty and interior/exterior dichotomies.

Car­los Reyes’s Inside Lovesongs TBD, 2012, com­prises boxes made of an opaque mir­ror with objects, impos­si­ble to see with the naked eye, stored inside them. These boxes are taken through air­port secu­rity and are “acti­vated” by the reveal­ing prop­er­ties of the X-ray. Notably, these works never reach their most true form as the boxes them­selves are obscured dur­ing the X-ray process. Rather than exist in the ver­nac­u­lar of sculp­ture or per­for­mance, Reyes believes that because var­i­ous aspects of these works are acti­vated by the con­text in which they exist, they point out­ward toward the sys­tems they inhabit.

Karen Archey is an art critic and cura­tor based in New York. She is the 2012–2013 Curator-in-Residence at Abrons Arts Cen­ter. For “Deep Space (insides)” she has cre­ated a zine enti­tled “Milly, Nick, Amanda, William,” which, through an essay and culled screen­shots and other pho­tographs, con­sid­ers the loss of con­trol over one’s online image after death.

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Joe Sheftel