At the Still Point
March 6 - April 11, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 5-8pm
Smack Mellon is pleased to present a five-channel video installation by Pawel Wojtasik and a series of pencil and tape drawings by Marietta Hoferer.
Wojtasik’s visually powerful videos typically take on weighty and controversial subjects—processing waste, domesticating marine life, and performing autopsies—without claiming moral authority. Instead, the artist employs rigorous formal techniques to create captivating metaphors for our complex and contradictory age. At the Still Point documents the activity of a ship-breaking yard in India, where huge vessels are dismantled and reprocessed for new use, interspersed with footage of cremation rites on the banks of the Ganges and images of Dhobi Ghat, an archaic laundry facility on the outskirts of Mumbai. This dramatic installation juxtaposes the consumption, destruction and renewal that accompany the rapid transition from earlier social forms into modern capitalism. The piece deals with the cyclical nature of phenomena, social and otherwise, as manifested in the spirituality of ancient religious rituals. The installation is united by an all-encompassing soundscape by the electronic musician and sound artist Stephen Vitiello.
Marietta Hoferer’s luminous pencil and tape drawings also employ rigorous formal technique but with an entirely different outcome. Hoferer begins her process by laying out a grid in pencil on paper, and then adds layers of tape that shift in tonality over time. The results are shimmering geometric patterns that appear defined by logic and process but actually reflect the organic movements of the artist’s hand, with references as disparate as Agnes Martin’s Minimalist paintings and North African textiles. Subtle in their muted colors, Hoferer’s drawings alter according to changes in light and the placement of the viewer. In Coptic Time, a title borrowed from Morton Feldman, the artist continues to refine her unique process, creating seven schematic textured drawings that animate the gallery.
At the Stillpoint
Created specifically for Smack Mellon’s unique space, At the Still Point consists of five 21 feet x 6 feet video projections. The large vertical projections reference altarpieces that unfold over multiple panels. The slow-moving video images rise above the viewers, engulfing their field of vision. Exploring cycles of birth, death and renewal, these images portray sites such as the ship breaking yard at Alang, where retired Western ships are dismantled and fully recycled by masses of Indian workers; the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi, where bodies of the dead burn while age-old Hindu rituals celebrate creation, preservation and destruction; an ancient laundry facility in Mumbai, surrounded by skyscrapers, highways, and train tracks. These images of India are accompanied by an immersive 5.1 surround soundscape created by Stephen Vitiello. I have been interested in these cyclical processes and have done work in the past that deals with transformations of matter, such as Dark Sun Squeeze (2003), a portrayal of a sewage treatment plant. While continuing to explore these concerns, At the Still Point ventures into a new territory in its simultaneous portrayal of multiple sites as well as in the verticality of its form.
Software design and technical assistance: Gian Pablo Villamil; Surround sound recording engineer: Paul Geluso; Sound recorded at Harvestworks, New York.
The artist wishes to thank Toby K. Lee for her invaluable contribution to At the Stillpoint. Also special thanks to: Momenta Art, KHOJ Media Center, Delhi, Pooja Sood, Aditya Kaushik, Heide Fasnacht, Asif Khan, Ed Barreveld, Almagul Menlibayeva, Bahar Behbahani, Sam Nosratian, Alla Kovgan, Denise Markonish, Alexis Bhagat, Christina Garidis, Gerald Hooper, Gabriella Spierer, Carol Kino, Elena Siyanko, Jonathan Hogg, Steve Holmgren, Hara Woltz, Peter Lew, Joanna Stanko, The Maritime Board of the State of Gujarat.
Pawel Wojtasik was born in Poland and lived in Tunisia before immigrating to the United States in 1972. He was recently a featured artist of the 2009 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar at Colgate University. Wojtasik's work has been exhibited at P.S. 1; the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, Spain; Hartford Atheneum; MASS MoCA, Martos Gallery, New York, and others. His films have been shown at numerous festivals and venues, including Anthology Film Archives, San Francisco Cinematheque, Oberhausen Film Festival; San Francisco International Film Festival; Rotterdam International Film festival; Images Festival, Toronto; Videoformes, France; Borderline Festival, Beijing, China and PBS WNET/Thirteen TV station in New York. In the spring of 2009 Wojtasik presented a groundbreaking 360° panoramic video installation Below Sea Level, at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), in North Adams, MA, with soundscape by Stephen Vitiello. Next Atlantis (2010), with the world premiere at Carnegie Hall, was the third collaboration between Wojtasik and composer Sebastian Currier. Pawel Wojtasik is a recipient of the New York State Council on the Arts individual artist grant for 2010. He is represented by Martos Gallery, NY.
I create grid-like formations and abstract compositions with faint pencil and tape lines or thousands of small hand-cut pieces of transparent tape, inspired by the rhythms of architecture and weaving. Although subtle, the linear bands and geometric patterning, reveal a luminous surface that changes with the light and differing vantage points.
Although my drawings might appear planned, calculated and mathematical to the viewer, it is actually the opposite. I work intuitively, guided by my chosen materials. My work is more a visceral response to my surroundings than a literal reference. Atmospheric conditions - light and weather, plant and other organic forms make a deep impression on me, as well as a parallel interest in architectonic structures that are mysteriously transmitted into my tape drawings.
Marietta Hoferer was born in Hausach, Germany and studied at Hunter College in New York and at St. Martins School of Art and Design in London before receiving an MFA from Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. Recent Exhibitions include KunstBüroBerlin, Berlin; Galerie Mourlot, The New York Public Library and the Drawing Center, New York; Academy Art Museum, Easton, Maryland and the 2009 International Incheon Women Artists’ Biennale in Seoul, Korea. This year she will have work included in Wall Drawings (March 2010) and then will have a solo show (October 2010) at Hosfelt Gallery in San Francisco, CA. She is a 2009 NYFA Artist Fellowship recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts. Hoferer lives and works in New York.