On the Wall
Curator: Stephen Grossman
September 26—November 3, 2001
Nadia Coen, Jan Cunningham, Sun K. Kwak, Ben Ledbetter, Sarah Oppenheimer, Oona Stern
Wall artists travel light except when they’re not loaded down by a dangling, weighty tool belt. What I mean by this cryptic statement is that generally artists that work directly on the wall fall into two distinct categories: globetrotting festival artist with Manhattan Portage bag slung casually over their shoulders, duly filled with tape, x-acto knife, and the few small blueprints that will act as visual guides in their labor-intensive transfer from tentative studio test-runs to full-scale reenactment on the gallery walls; or, equally prevalent, a kind of Home Depot savant, who knows their way around the aisles of a hardware store, and can operate a band saw and power drill as easily as a compass and a protractor. Both groups, whether they’re lurking around the discount stalls on Canal Street looking for that elusive brand of duct tape, or making a late night foray to an off-limits construction site where stray lumber and drywall abound, share the same utopian aspiration: they both seek a kind of willful collapse or evaporation of the exhibition space’s encapsulating boundaries, in the hopes of substituting a more ideal version in its place. And while On the Wall, curated by Stephen Grossman, offered examples of these two extremes, its intention was to collapse this simple binary distinction as subtly as the artists reimagine a more perfect environment to view their work.