Saturday, November 07, 2009

Imaginary Numbers & Other Calculated Fictions: David Colosi

[“The Proof” (2009), mixed media installation. Other various mixed media installations.]

Psychographic drawings stand adjacent to analytical assemblages—and previous site-specific installations are reinterpreted to fit a new environment—in David Colosi’s first solo exhibition in New York. Running through January 1, 2010, “Imaginary Numbers and Other Calculated Fictions” embraces Colosi’s terminology of “Three-Dimensional Literature” to define his cross-disciplinary work in visual art and literature. In the way that a collection of stories may include those that have been published previously, this exhibition includes those previously exhibited elsewhere—standing amid those that have not. The artist’s recent drawings and small-scale sculptures become an ensemble in the vein of Bruce Conner (1933-2008), the artist once associated with the “Beat community” whose first solo shows featured assemblages, collages, drawings, paintings, prints, and sculptures.

Colosi’s work has explored the intersection of mathematics and literature in the tradition of English author and mathematician Lewis Carroll (1832–1898), Italian journalist Italo Calvino (1923–1985), and French poet and novelist Raymond Queneau (1903–1976). The latter two were members of “Ouvroir de littérature potentielle” (Workshop of Potential Literature)—more commonly known as “Oulipo.”Oulipo was an informal “consortium” of primarily French speaking writers and mathematicians using constrained writing techniques to create works. [Calvino was a major exception vis-à-vis language as he was the most-translated contemporary writer in the Italian language at the time of his death.] Objectified math and grammatical symbols from Colosi’s installation “The Proof”—a project previously sponsored by the “Swing Space Program” of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council—have been repurposed to anchor this exhibition at Cueto Project. As in that previous show, objects of mathematical calculation share this gallery environment with the viewer.

In “Imaginary Numbers & Other Calculated Fictions,” these symbols appear between the “cracks” of narrative objects. Normally in this position, arrows, parentheses, and equal signs would cement a relationship between the variables at their sides—invisibly performing service roles. In this show at Cueto Project, they help to bring disparate stories together into a unified narrative—though still not negating the story “fragments.” What results is a cohesive installation of independent works that recall the poetry and undercurrent of the work of Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904– 1991), better known as Dr. Seuss. The artist’s work takes this a step further. Viewers are reminded that a “proof”—like any mathematical calculation—requires both their action and participation in order to function.

Adrian Piper—who brought a great deal of texture and bite to Minimalism and expanded the vocabulary of Conceptual art—is another obvious influence on David Colosi. Piper had “tremendous respect for any institution that would take the risk of giving its stamp of approval to work that is difficult, disturbing, confrontational, politically volatile, and of uncertain market value at best.” She felt that such institutions must believe in such work for its own sake. Indeed, that is what the viewer will find at “Imaginary Numbers & Other Calculated Fictions.”

In addition to his installation in the LMCC Swing Space Program, the work of David Colosi has been exhibited in such venues as Galerie Catherine Bastide (Brussels), Art Statements at Art Basel (Switzerland), Art Positions at Art Basel Miami Beach, the Floating Gallery (Tokyo), and Highways Performance Space Gallery (Los Angeles). His poetry has found “homes” in “Laughing Blood: Selected Poems 1987-2003” and “From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multi-Cultural Anthology of Poetry Across the Americas, 1900-2002.”

Imaginary Numbers & Other Calculated Fictions: David Colosi

Through January 1, 2010

@ Cueto Project

551 West 21st Street, New York City 10011

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

Project Space
125 Maiden Lane, 2nd Floor
(between Pearl and Water St.)
New York, NY 10038

The Center for Three-Dimensional Literature

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