For the exhibition Stele Trial, Jason Loebs has taught himself Teeline, a shorthand writing system commonly used in courtrooms and police-evidence recordings. He has etched stock phrases from English-speaking courtroom trials (drawn from his own handwritten shorthand notes) into marble: “Is there anything that would prevent you from serving fairly and impartially?”; “As jurors, you are not to be swayed by sympathy.” By recasting the experience of contemplating art as a hypothetical trial, Loebs asks: Who might the prosecutor be? The accused?
Also on display is a series of photographs of smartphones laid on a workplace table. The individual screens of each phone display images of the New York State Supreme Court Building and the Tweed Courthouse, both not far from Ludlow 38; the images depict artworks installed in the courthouses or image stills from films where they have appeared. The screens disclose an anterior source for the image on their surface. The design of both the phones and the marble slabs share a common function: record keeping.
To illuminate these objects, Loebs has lit Ludlow 38 by installing cleanroom lighting typically used in labs for manufacturing and photo developing. The lighting comes to stand in as a generic site for scientific procedure and production—pointing to the double meaning of the word “trial”—both as experiment and as tribunal.
The exhibition is organized by The Agency for Legal Imagination operating throughout 2018 at MINI/Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies Ludlow 38.