Team is pleased to present an exhibition of new drawings, alongside one sculpture, by the New York-based Banks Violette. The exhibition will run from the 7th of May through the 20th of June 2009. Team Gallery is located at 83 Grand Street, between Wooster and Greene, on the ground floor. Sculptor Banks Violette has always referred to his drawings as “film cells from the world’s slowest movie.” As with the cinema, meaning does not adhere solely to individual images but rather to their accretion over time. Viewed singly, these exquisitely rendered pictures seem miraculous transfigurations of realism, but when seen in groups they form a continuous landscape of memory, regret and melancholy. The iconography on which Violette built this show includes the ace of spades, a grinning skull from a B-movie campaign, a famous Vietnam-era image of human suffering, a roadside death shrine, discarded party balloons, a theater spotlight, and the Crimson Ghost from the 1940s Republic film serial. When taken together, the drawings touch on themes of redemption and faith, death and transformation. Central to the exhibition is a portrait of Bela Lugosi as Jesus Christ. Before coming to the U.S. to make his name as the cinema's most famous vampire, the Hungarian actor made his living playing the lead in passion plays. Violette’s Dracula/Christ manages to take the perceived goodness and suffering of the Jesus figure and "confuse" them with the monstrous evil that Lugosi would so successfully embody as the Count. Lugosi's well-documented drug addiction and late-period decline into poverty and obscurity are also clearly a part of what attracts Violette to this image. A seemingly benign religious portrait, in Violette’s hands, becomes a container for Hollywood’s lies, America’s morbid fascination with disposable celebrity, and our constant need to construct mythologies of total success and absolute failure. Violette’s drawings are also, at their very core, terribly American works of art, a fact foregrounded here by an eight by four foot drawing of the U.S. flag rendered in black and white and mounted onto a slab of aluminum which is then simply propped against the wall. This monolith helps underline the physicality of Violette’s drawings – images struggle to the surface from a dense mass of graphite applied sometimes laboriously and vigorously; sometimes with a gentle and persuasive sensitivity. The show’s lone sculpture is a motorcycle that has been cast entirely in resin and salt. The stark white presence will be paired with a drawing of a shrine left at a scene where someone had died in a motorcycle crash. The way in which the image has been rendered makes the drawing seem to appear and disappear as one looks at it. A very strange sense pervades that you are both looking at something specific and looking at nothing at all. Violette’s drawings are always coming together and falling apart in the eye of the spectator. Soft edges, hardened into image through cognition, vanish into nothingness and slip from legibility. Violette’s work, sometimes crushingly monumental and brutally hard-edged, always sopresent, is actually, delicately, about the “after” of things. It is not the photo-realistic clarity of the drawings that gives them their power but rather the way in which they remain vague and unreal impressions with a ghost-like presence. The commemorative and the evidentiary, posed as poetry and prose, have remained central in Violette’s work. The contradictory and the elusive are the continent of his travels. If one looks for the development in Violette’s work one finds a movement towards abstraction: from his earlier works, which sprang from specific social, usually criminal, phenomenon to his most recent investigations of staging and the spectacular as vessels of oblivion.
MICHAËL BORREMANS : Taking Turns @ David Zwirner
For the current show at David Zwirner, Borremans has created five new paintings and is presenting three films: The Feeding, The Storm, and Taking Turns.
For this exhibition, the gallery (519 West 19th Street) has been divided into two relatively equal spaces. Upon entering the first space, a 35mm film projector shows a loop of The Storm as a large-scale projection, reaching close to 15 feet in height and 23 feet in width on the gallery wall. In the film, three black men, wearing identical cream-colored uniforms (a mix of work clothes and stage costumes), are sitting slumped in chairs in the corner of a white, empty room. The harsh light of a naked bulb alters the shot by modifying the intensity of the shadows moving imperceptibly on the surface of the wall.1
The second gallery space introduces an intimate presentation of two other 35mm films, The Feeding and Taking Turns, both which have been transferred to DVDs and viewed within wall-mounted wooden frames. The films are shown alongside the exhibition’s five oil on canvas paintings: The Apron, Earthlight Room, The Load, The Load (II), The Load (III).
In The Feeding, the three figures from The Storm reappear, standing around enormous reams of white cardboard that give the impression of levitating above a table covered with a spotless cloth in the middle of a room.2 In Taking Turns, a woman holds the torso of a life-sized mannequin, and slowly moves and spins the torso on top of a horizontal surface. There is an ambiguity between what is real and what is artificial, as their two faces and figures overlap and rotate in the film’s frames. Once again, the theme of the double, or the doppelganger, is a device encountered throughout Borremans’ oeuvre.3Formally and thematically, Borremans’ films are closely related to his two-dimensional work. They are shifting ‘tableaux vivants’ with poetic titles, in which the artist very gradually, with subtle camera work, creates an oppressive atmosphere. He uses a fixed camera position or deliberately zooms in on certain details of the scenery, body parts, faces, or clothing. With slight light-dark fluctuations, flowing edited shots or the repetition of certain actions, Borremans builds up a gripping but subdued suspense.