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Installation view of Karin Schneider: Situational Diagram

Karin Schneider

Situational Diagram

Lévy Gorvy New York
September 7 – October 20 2016

Situational Diagram is an exhibition at Dominique Lévy, New York, by Brazil-born, New York-based artist and filmmaker Karin Schneider. The exhibition is accompanied by a series of readings and gatherings and a critical companion edited by Schneider and gallery director Begum Yasar. The publication features contributions by Sabu Kohso, Jaleh Mansoor, Jean-Luc Nancy, Simon O’Sullivan, Anne Querrien, Abrahão de Oliveira Santos, Valentin Schaepelynck, Schneider, Aliza Shvarts, Yasar, and Tirdad Zolghadr.

Situational Diagram takes as its point of departure a series of monochrome paintings structured in reference to the artistic practices of Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt, and Mark Rothko as they developed after World War II. These paintings are made with Mars Black pigment, mixed variously with Cobalt Blue, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, and Phthalo Emerald. Schneider also blends derivatives of petroleum and coal (two primary energy sources) with the black pigment.

16 black monochrome paintings are installed on the gallery’s second floor in a “trisected square” steel architectural structure, built in reference to the black-on-black squares that characterize Reinhardt’s paintings. Paintings from this group can only be acquired by collectors with the agreement that another artist will at some point alter the canvas by painting over its surface. The name of the other artist is not to be revealed to the buyer prior to acquisition. Also on the second floor is a 16 mm film of the Adriatic Sea projected from a wood and Plexiglas “transparent partition.” An Extraction features the silhouette of the female figure extracted as a form from Matisse’s Nu Bleu III (1952), rendered in black neoprene and placed on the gallery floor.

On the gallery’s third floor visitors will find two Splits, works referencing Newman’s Onement I (1948) and Stations of the Cross (1958–66), and a large Void work referencing a painting at the Rothko Chapel in Houston, TX. The third floor also presents Index, a series of paintings cataloguing the exhibition’s various blacks; a Cancellation work that simultaneously combines and annuls two artistic styles and their corresponding sets of values (in this case, those of Reinhardt and Tarsila do Amaral) within one painting; and an Extraction from Tarsila’s Abaporu (1928) (this form rendered in black steel).

An advertisement for the exhibition placed in Artforum features an image associated with a current geopolitical crisis—a gesture that asserts connections between vastly different but nevertheless interconnected contexts. A copy of the magazine occupies the second gallery of the third floor together with three Naming paintings.

Each artwork in the exhibition is to be sold accompanied with specific purchase agreements, which are structured in a way that aims to generate an economic model to support collaborators involved in various aspects of the work.

Situational Diagram is an exercise that detours from a politics of aesthetics associated with prevailing modes of authorship, viewership, and dissemination. It creates opportunities for multifaceted encounters with artworks. The ways in which the works confront various political, economic, and environmental issues are only detectable through a slowed-down perception of the exhibition. The gallery space can thus function as a political device, proposing a diagrammatic relationship between artist, artwork, and viewer. In this model, diverse forms of engagement can be established in relation to the artistic use of materials, time, space, and the exigencies of our time.

Karin Schneider is a Brazil-born and New York-based artist and filmmaker. In 1997, Schneider founded Union Gaucha Productions (UGP) with Nicolás Guagnini, an artist-run, experimental film company that carries out interdisciplinary collaborations with practitioners from different fields. From 2005 to 2008, she was a founding member of Orchard, a cooperatively organized exhibition and social space in New York’s Lower East Side. In 2010, Schneider cofounded Cage, a space that facilitates new kinds of social interactions. Her most recent body of work is Situational Diagram, which she first presented as a text at the Centre Culturel International de Cerisy, France, in 2015.

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