press release

YBCA presents Wallworks the highly anticipated curatorial debut of Betti-Sue Hertz, YBCA’s newly appointed Director of Visual Arts. For the exhibition, YBCA commissions local, regional and international artists to use the literal aspects of YBCA’s architectural space, built in 1993 by acclaimed architect Fumihiko Maki, as a starting point to create new large-scale works directly on the walls of both its galleries and its public spaces.

Wallworks artists crisscross between the visual and tactile qualities of the material that they use, and their interface with an audience conceived in the manner of a skeptic. Drawing the vast encyclopedia of signs inwards, their visualizations are subjective readings of spatial contingencies, as if groping around in the dark for glimmers of what is to come next.

Curatorial Statement by Betti-Sue Hertz

Designed by the Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, the 1993 building that houses YBCA's exhibition spaces expresses his passion for creating environments where communion and social communication are made available within the restless commotion of urban life. For Wallworks, we commissioned artists Makoto Aida, Edgar Arceneaux, Chris Finley, Tillman Kaiser, Odili Donald Odita, Amanda Ross-Ho, Yehudit Sasportas and Leslie Shows to create dynamic new works in dialogue with Maki's vision. Additionally, we introduced two thematic threads into the project: split landscapes and culture color. Split landscapes, constructed from geometries and alchemical concepts, visually portray imaginary alterations and fragments of nature that reference disharmony, trauma or confusion. Culture color signals the way that cultural production, in relation to geo-social conditions and deep-seated regional preferences, adapts to new technologies and contemporary sensibilities.

Odita's highly charged color geometries are spatially disorienting configurations that both guide and challenge the viewer in motion. Both Finley and Kaiser are invested in the –isms of 20th century painting in which futuristic imagery, inflected with a retro appearance, is stirred by digital aids into a surprising abstracted amalgam. Ross-Ho's inversions elide expectations through a process of tracing and removal that upends the quotidian through the manipulation of scale and materials by "harvesting" taxonomies of tree leaves, jewelry, craft objects and items from police seizures. Elemental forms imbedded in ethereal color fields are the visual basis for Arceneaux's pairing of an expanded zodiac with biblical references to the lost tribes. Stylistically referencing anime, Aida's wall features the kumade, a lucky charm souvenir that originated with the simple farming rake, as the central element in his interpretation of the electronic urbanscape of Tokyo. Sasportas' German forests and Shows' Alaskan arctic glaciersare the real life sources for landscapes where pastoral and alienated romanticism collide turning nature into an active living organism. These varied works serve as temporary markers, reflecting the intersections between landscape, the popular imagination and the history of art, marked by a struggle with what the past has handed down and the impossibility of grasping the potentialities of the future.

Perhaps it is because the installations in Wallworks are firmly attached to the surfaces of the building, and so closely align themselves with the drama of the spatial coordinates of its interior, or maybe it is because they have been crafted to accommodate the scale of the walls, but they engender an unexpected sensation in me. In addition to the material aspects of the works operating on a large scale, their investigations into the relationship to humanity also holds larger forces, whether manifested as cosmology, energetic fields, geology, imaginary outer space, or the infinity of mathematical sets. In contrast to the various levels of enormity with which the works are charged, I find myself looking inward, towards the diminutive, wrestling with my own insularity and struggling to come to terms with the contemporary belief in the unique self. These conditional representations of visible and invisible forces that together form this vast amorphous collectivity do not necessarily lay a path for me to overcome my limitations, but they do offer the presence of the visual as a foil for my corporeal body standing in the galleries. I am awakened to this challenge.

Betti-Sue Hertz

Kurator: Betti-Sue Hertz

Künstler: Makoto Aida, Edgar Arceneaux, Chris Finley, Tillman Kaiser, Odili Donald Odita, Amanda Ross-Ho, Yehudit Sasportas, Leslie Shows ...