Monday, April 13, 2009

East Meets West in Typewriters

[“Read Dear,” diptych (2009). Bozidar Brazda. Olivetti typewriters, automotive paint, vinyl, shelf.]

The Olivetti typewriters coated with automotive paint and vinyl on shelves in Bozidar Brazda’s installation in the project room at Bortolami Gallery bespeak a past without nostalgia. In “Typewriters,” as in Brazda’s past exhibitions, he establishes a narrative of ridiculous connections, thereby creating a space in which that exposed (and absurd) narrative is shattered. One can almost hear the clanking sounds made by typing Cold War era Eastern-bloc bureaucrats and members of the nomenklatura. More importantly, Brazda creates the heavy feeling inherent with those patron-client relationships in a milieu in which loyalties and favor supersede ideals and merit. Born in Canada, Brazda’s family had settled there after emigrating from Eastern Europe in 1968—the year of Prague Spring’s elusive promise and a traumatic purge in the Polish United Worker’s Party in the wake of “March events” (wydarzenia marcowe). One could also ponder the noisy rows of IBM Selectrics (and the minions toiling upon them) at the same time in the bowels of U.S. corporations and institutions.

Living and working in New York, Brazda participated in the 2008 Whitney Biennial and has performed at The Kitchen. Describing his work as semi-autobiographical, he consistently references aspects of his East-West upbringing in narratives—whether written or not. These narratives mold his multimedia installations such as “Typewriters.” Additionally, recurring themes of East-West politics and culture embed these installations—regardless of whether they include sculptures, wall texts, music, video, or in combinations thereof. In “Typewriters,” Brazda brings fluidity and spontaneity to discarded and heavy relics of another epoch. While the installation’s arrangement is powerful in toto, the pieces also work as standalones and allow viewers to divide the context.

Again, Brazda has presented us with another postminimal, rough-hewn exhibition in which somewhat autobiographical narratives bring to bear “charmed arrangement” and “imposed logic.” His yarns—spun with whimsy in conflated, mutable, and even conflicting discourse—expose his representations of “objective” history as art. The possible, resultant undermining of our presumption can be refreshing, if not liberating.

Typewriters by Bozidar Brazda

through May 2, 2009

The Project Room at Bortolami Gallery

510 West 25th Street, NYC 10001

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