Abstract Derive

May 23–June 27, 2010

The Goethe-Institut New York is proud to announce Künstlerhaus Stuttgart as the third partner to collaborate with its satellite exhibition space for contemporary art, Ludlow 38, on the Lower East Side. After Kunstverein München and European Kunsthalle Cologne, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart (founded in 1978) represents another institutional model, coming from the German context, initially based on artistic self-organization. For the first exhibition, curators Axel Wieder and Tobi Maier present works of artists that originate from diverse sociopolitical investigations and create a tension between abstraction and concrete social circumstances. Abstract Derive departs from an earlier commission of New York-based artist Cristóbal Lehyt at Künstlerhaus Stuttgart in 2008, for which the artist produced a large-scale model of the city of Stuttgart and portraits of its citizens that approach the question of subjectivity through the practice of drawing. This was used as a point of reference to create a group show investigating questions related to the specificity of site and the politics of abstraction, as an attempt to mediate a relationship between history and representation.

In his work, Kasper Akhøj questions the significance of design within our communities. In 2006, the artist took part in a research project that consisted of a journey to follow Tito’s motorway project – the Highway of Brotherhood and Unity – from the 1940s and 1950s. A year later, Akhøj followed the route from Skopje to Ljubljana and discovered the Abstracta display system, dating from about 1960 and designed by Danish architect Poul Cadovius. Different versions of the system had traveled to the Balkans and over the time became an easily adjustable and portable structure for the presentation of goods in a variety of contexts. Akhøj has traced these journeys and presents a version of Abstracta at Ludlow 38.

Judith Raum’s historical and geographically specific research about the business relationships and cultural knowledge transfer between the German and the Ottoman empire is the subject of a new video machine subjectivity (15 min, 2010), which depicts static shots of wooden handlooms, accompanied by a voice-over. Using images from different handlooms in Germany and Turkey, the video triggers ideas about the production of subjectivity and self-empowerment, demonstrated here in the working ethos of home weavers and their entrepreneurial risk that is based on improvisation. A series of three self-made booklets featuring visual essays from Raum’s research and conversations between the artist and Alice Creischer, Rahel Jaeggi, and Suhail Malik have been re-produced for the show.

Dave Hullfish Bailey is interested in models of self-organization and a decentralized do-it-yourself approach to design. In his work, he reconstructs and re-adapts found projects and initiatives and develops them further, imagining their possible future and using them to open speculative scenarios about individual freedom and communal living. Translating them into cultural representations, often in the form of models or photos, he carefully re-considers the way in which social issues are addressed and formulated in cultural contexts. The photos from the series Working approximation of a conventional form, re-determined by prevailing conditions (2007/2009) show the library of Slab City, an ad-hoc squatters’ camp in the California desert. Bailey used compass points to determine the camera angles, creating an abstract descriptive system. A second work is a library-bound copy of Bailey’s recent book What’s Left (which also includes his research on Slab City), underlining the materiality of information.

In Mariana Castillo Deball’s video Entropology (8 min, 2008), a voice-over tells the story of a mineralogist working at the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, creating minerals that do not exist in nature. The video consists of images from the CERN in the 1950s and the collection of stones gathered by the French intellectual Roger Caillois, who was searching for an order of things that includes but it is not restricted to human knowledge. Caillois proposes a way of thinking about the world not limited to disciplines or literary genres, but a way to reflect on the world by making unusual connections.

The idea for human interaction is reoccurring in much of Jarbas Lopes’ work. His projects are often open-ended and rely on audience participation. Lopes is interested in chance and the tension between materials on the one hand and their interaction with individuals on the other hand. In recent years, Lopes has used bungee cords of varying colors for a series of works whose overlaps create an object that is both aesthetic and functional. Derived from casual group experiments taking place during journeys through New York, the work presented here originally served as a model for a larger interactive square sculpture but now resembles a crown or mask.

Manuel Raeder uses typography and images in his work to present information in a way that is not determined by its design, but remains open towards multiple readings. As part of his practice, Raeder is currently researching the history of Concrete Poetry, particularly in South America. He is interested in open systems of language, comparing them to architectural works as Lina Bo Bardi’s buildings in Brazil. For Abstract Derive, Raeder will produce a printed poster that developed from this research.

About the artists:

Cristóbal Lehyt (born 1973) lives and works in New York. His solo exhibitions include UAG/Room Gallery, UC Irvine; Künstlerhaus Stuttgart; and Fundación Telefónica, Chile, and most recently Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University (2010). Group exhibitions include the Mercosul Biennial (2009); New Ghost Entertainment—Entitled, Or Gallery and Kunsthaus Dresden (2006); When Artists Say We, Artists Space (2006); Metaphysics of Youth, Fuori Uso (2006); and the 2004 Shanghai Biennale.

Dave Hullfish Bailey (born 1963) lives and works in Los Angeles. After completing degrees in philosophy and theology, he studied at the Art Center College of Design Pasadena where he graduated in 1995. He currently teaches at the Art Center College of Design Pasadena. Recent solo exhibitions include Secession Vienna and Centre d’Art Santa Monica, Barcelona (2006), as well as Casco, Utrecht (2007), and a two-person show with Nils Norman at Raven Row, London (2009). He also participated in the 2nd Berlin Biennial (1998) and the Lyon Biennial in 2008.

Jarbas Lopes (born 1964, Nova Iguaçu, Rio de Janeiro) lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. He graduated in sculpture from the Escola de Belas Artes, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Recent solo exhibitions include Park Central, Tilton Gallery, New York (2010); Cicloviaérea, Arizona State University Museum of Art, Phoenix (2007); Política e vida, Andre Millan Gallery, São Paulo (2006); and Residency at the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami (2005). A major new commission was included in the 27th São Paulo Biennial (2006) and in 2008 he also participated in the 7th Gwangju Biennial.

Born in 1977 in Werneck, Judith Raum studied fine art at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main and at The Cooper Union in New York City, as well as philosophy at Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main. She lives and works in Berlin. Recent exhibitions include Invisible / talking objects, nextex, St. Gallen (2010); Internal Necessity, Paul Klee Zentrum Bern (2009); and Contemporary Arts Library Services, Frankfurter Kunstverein (2008). She has a teaching assignment in art theory+practice at University of Fine Arts Berlin.

Kasper Akhøj (born 1976) studied at Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. He completed the Whitney Independent Study Program, New York, in 2009. His work has been shown at Overgaden, Copenhagen (2010); 28th São Paulo Biennial (2008); Den Frie – Centre of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen (2006); and 50th Venice Biennial (2003). Akhøj is currently Artist in Residence at the 29th São Paulo Biennial and will have a solo exhibition at Wiels – Center for Contemporary Art, Brussels later this year. He lives in New York and Copenhagen.

Manuel Raeder (born 1977) is a graphic designer who lives and works in Berlin. He studied at the London College of Printing and has completed post-graduate studies at the Jan van Eyck Akademie in Maastricht. His main focus lies in close collaborations with artists, designers, curators, theorists, and musicians. His work has a wide range of formats from exhibitions, publications, and type design to furniture design. Raeder has held workshops at the Ecole nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs, Paris, and the Hochschule für bildende Künste, Hamburg.

Mariana Castillo Deball (born 1975, Mexico City) lives in Amsterdam and Berlin. She received her BFA from the National University of Mexico in 1997 and completed a degree in philosophy in 1999 from Iberoamerican University, Mexico, and a postgraduate program in 2004 from Jan Van Eyck Akademie, Maastricht. Selected solo exhibitions include Kaleidoscopic Eye, Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen (2009); Nobody was tomorrow, Gallery Barbara Wien, Berlin; Do ut des, Objectif_exhibitions, Antwerp; and A for Alibi, De Appel, Amsterdam (2007). In 2008 her work was included in Manifesta 7, Rovereto, Italy (in collaboration with Irene Kopelman, uqbar) and the 7th Shanghai Biennale.