Petzel Gallery is currently showing Walead Beshty’s solo show “Abstract of A Partial Disassembling of an Invention Without a Future: Helter-Skelter and Random Notes in Which the Pulleys and Cogwheels Are Lying Around at Random All Over the Workbench”. The sheer volume of work covering the walls is overwhelming and impressive in its assembly.
From the press release-
The work A Partial Disassembling of an Invention Without a Future: Helter-Skelter and Random Notes in Which the Pulleys and Cogwheels Are Lying Around at Random All Over the Workbench, was originally commissioned by the Barbican Centre, London. The London-born, Los Angeles-based artist first exhibited the work there in 2014, covering the 273 ft long Curve gallery from floor to ceiling in cyanotype prints. The prints were produced over the duration of a year (October 9, 2013–October 8, 2014) and are chronologically installed in proportion to the exhibition space. For its New York première at Petzel, approximately 5,120 cyanotypes (38% of the total 15,616 sq. ft work) will be presented.
In A Partial Disassembling of an Invention … , each cyanotype (a 19th Century photographic process using ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferro-cyanide) was produced by placing tools and other objects used in the production process of the studio on cellulose waste material generated by that same process (such as wood, cardboard, or paper) that was coated with UV-sensitive cyanotype material. After being exposed to sunlight and washed in water, the object’s silhouette appears in reverse against a cyan-blue background.
In using everyday objects, such as receipts, prescriptions, invoices, financial statements, legal documents, letters, gallery invitations, etc. from the working life of the studio, an inherent transparency is embedded in the work, demystifying the artwork and exposing its process of coming to be. Representative of the lives of those who made it, the cyanotypes expose both aspects of identity and circumstance, situating the work within political, social, and economic exchange without being representational or depictive in the conventional sense. While both the Barbican and Petzel iterations deal with debris, this new display has a more overtly American immediacy to it. Considering the resurgent discourse on the politics of representation, there is a new urgency to exhibiting the work for the questions it evokes about the modes and uses of representation, such as how art can accurately display real world conditions of labor, production and power, and whether a truly accurate and transparent form of representation is possible.
Beshty will also show Prologue to A Partial Disassembling of an Invention Without a Future: Helter-Skelter and Random Notes in Which the Pulleys and Cogwheels Are Lying Around at Random All Over the Workbench, which are the cyanotypes that were produced in anticipation of the Barbican work from August 1, 2013–October 8, 2013, along with seven volumes of the 59-volume archive of the work. The books—in their Prologue and Opus volumes—comprise bound pages printed recto and verso of the entire work reproduced at 1:2 scale. The volumes create both an archival record of Beshty’s workspace as well as an index of all the tools and artefacts used for the work’s own making.
The title of the project is a reference to Hollis Frampton’s hypothetical lecture he muses about in a talk delivered at the Whitney Museum of American Art, but never actually gives. The title of this phantom lecture alludes to the origins of the medium, and its inevitable obsolescence. It also calls forward the question of the role objects play when they have ceased being useful. Wrenched by time from their intended use, the objects become purely aesthetic, becoming the focus of contemplation in both historical and poetic terms.
This exhibition closes 12/14/19.