Hamiltonian Artists Presents Ghost Chair Group Exhibition

By Editorial Team on November 5, 2019

Sat, 09 November 2019 - Sat, 14 December 2019

Kaitlin Jensco, Lee Avenue, archival pigment print, 2017. Courtesy of Hamiltonian Artists.
Opening Reception: Saturday, November 9 from 7pm to 9pm

Sera Boeno, Heather Theresa Clark, Brian Dunn, Patrick Harkin, Luke Ikard, Kaitlin Jencso, Antonio McAfee, Curtis Miller, Ellen Xu

Please join us on November 9 from 7-9 pm for the opening reception of our annual group exhibition in which the Hamiltonian Fellows create new work with a prompt from an invited guest curator. The artists and the curators will be in attendance.

Hamiltonian Artists presents the annual Fellows Converge exhibition featuring nine current and outgoing Hamiltonian Fellows working across media including video, painting, photography, installation, and sculpture. Guest curators Deric Carner and Natalia Nakazawa of The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (EFA) selected works in conversation with the artists around ideas of place, connection, ground and body. The artworks in the show represent a diverse set of perspectives, each strongly situated in their outlook and methodology. Ghost Chair suggests that formal elements serve as transparent or occult armatures to support deeply personal and embodied histories. Several of these histories are political or elegiac. Others use humor and material investigations to frame their practice. Notions of transparency, visibility or invisibility are key to many of the works. In addition to primary works, the artists contributed ephemera, text and supporting images to bring insight into the works’ production and social context.

The body and its absence or replacement with the sign of a body is the focus of several artworks. A leather recliner chair by Luke Ikard is brought to life using sound and breathlike mechanical movements. Suggestive of dark reanimation, taxidermy, and animatronics, the piece brings death uncomfortably close to the viewer. Kaitlin Jensco’s photographs are formally stark and redolent of loss. Taken in her community along the Chesapeake Bay, the story behind the images are suggested rather than stated. In Ellen Xu’s performance piece Waste Ellen, the artist creates a body double of herself in public spaces in Seattle. In Xu’s native China such an act would be seen as morbid. The video documentation shown here is suggestive of creepy, but funny film tropes such as The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In the gallery, Ellen has recreated her ephemeral stand-in with bubble wrap and her own clothing.

Formal and material concerns enter a relay with content which sometimes slips into total abstraction. Anti-photographic fabric, which reflects back light and effectively underexposes the rest of the image, structures Patrick Harkin’s stop motion film. Sets are outlined in bright lines and ghostly figures move about with only a top of a bottom torso visible. The work has the comedic pleasure of Buster Keaton while connecting a reduced art aesthetic to the pop flash of paparazzi exposure. Brian Dunn makes paintings on folded metal that masquerade as everyday objects. For this show, he installed his trompe l’oeil broadsheets as oblique on signposts in the streets. With the newspaper imagery minimally alluded to with black squares, his work is a loaded cipher for our post-truth times. Equally in the gallery, they can be seen in formal terms whose inspiration is purely structural. Curtis Miller uses an intensive process of building painting grounds with sprayed layers of rabbit glue and raw pigments. These grounds are then partially brush-painted to confound the ground and the image, the intentional and the emergent marks. Ultimately, Miller is ambivalent about whether the resulting image should be legible or linked to a specific reference outside the painting itself. Additionally, Miller shares a “painting box” which offers visitors a chance to interact with one of his prepared grounds in a limited manner.

Urgent political interests animate many of the artists in the show. Sera Boeno’s work deals directly and monumentally with the silencing and oppression of women in her home country of Turkey. She grabs headline texts from newspapers, which include oft-sidelined topics such as the Me Too movement, and cements them into compelling “mockuments”. These sculptural elements function as reminders that change is slow, absurd, and brings to mind the question: “how long will we have to confront these issues?” Heather Theresa Clark’s Because What Else Can We Do is at once a hypothetical proposal, a concrete plan, and an emploring command. Seeking to highlight climate change, Clark makes public the ostensibly private activity of packing, sorting through worldly goods, and organizing a family of four to embark on an epic 500-mile walk between the artist’s home in Vermont and Washington. Could it be that this is the gesture that sparks a movement? In Antonio McAfee’s large scale mixed media piece, …After the Deluge, serves as an oculus in which the ghost of the past stares back at us in 3D. The center of the eye holds a stereoscopic image of a black child from the 1900’s whose gaze confronts and complicates a passive reading. Toggling between viewing with glasses and without, the image disrupts, alluding a precarity around vision and memory.