The Weight of Matter
In Simulacra and Simulation, Jean Baudrillard said that “abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.”1 One might take this a step further and say that a simulated space, idea or object exists permanently without an identity, origin or reality, and that we live our lives in relation to our own relative awareness of this truth. Ultimately, we cultivate a hyperreality to cope with the fact that we rely on systems of understanding that are by their very nature culpable, antiquated or completely false. If matter has weight, it also has conceptual origin. The artists in The Weight of Matter, expand this idea within the framework of abstracted materiality, while simultaneously deepening our understanding of the impulse to make art at all. As Baudrillard asserts, “it is the task of radical thought, since the world is given to us in unintelligibility, to make it more intelligible, more enigmatic, more fabulous.”2 Each of the artists in this exhibition challenge their own notions of materiality, to dream more deeply, to revolutionize – not the world – but their own personal strategies for living within its coded and evershifting reality. Perception is at the core of these artists’ investigations into negotiated space wherein, as Gilles Deleuze put it, “to affirm is not to bear, carry, or harness oneself to that which exists, but on the contrary, to unburden, unharness, and set free that which lives.”3 It is up to each of us, as individuals, to determine the specific parameters by which we might become “unburdened” and ultimately set free. There is also a nod to more traditional art forms such as weavings and tapestries, the kind of art that forefronts craft, yet has within it the elements of play and magic. These artworks leverage traditional domestic practices, including craft techniques, to form non-linear, non-objective modes of perception that focus less on the materiality of the work and more on its concepts. The making of an artwork is itself a kind of ritualized practice, a constant system of retrieval and transformation where the intellectual and creative “weight” of the endeavor, or the “making” of an object is encased within a specific and refined artistic action. This is a constantly shifting territory; even for the artist who imagines and then makes the work, there exists the sense that they, as Gertrude Stein once put it, “initiates an operation of unknown factors to be instructed by its results.”4 These factors are beneficially unknown to the artist who makes the object, and only within the scope and breadth of the work’s materiality does he discover, if only for a moment, a fleeting sense of purpose.