Get on the Block

Julianne Ahn, Alex Paik, Matt Phillips, Travis LeRoy Southworth, Liz Zanis

Camel Art Space
Brooklyn, NY
May 13 – June 19, 2011


museumnerd: The Best Art Exhibits of 2011 Emily Nathan, Brooklyn Local: Brooklyn Open Studios Allison Meier, Wandering Through Bushwick Open Studios Carolina A. Miranda, This Week: Must-See Arts in the City


Exhibition essay here


The works in Get on the Block explore social and self-conscious motivations and anxieties surrounding art production and display. Through sincere humor, humility and coy absurdity, these artists confront what critic Jan Verwoert has termed “the pressure to perform,” the expectation that artists and cultural producers present absolute, correct assertions with the “genius-like” promise of positive results. In contrast, these works offer open-ended proposals or temporary conclusions, rendering suspect the desire and criteria for defining success or failure.

Wary of their assumed positions as key-holders to a romantic, isolated world of the studio, the artists in the exhibition both embrace and confront the problematic of this rarified space. Jubilance and serendipity direct Alex Paik’s skewed, hyper-saturated geometric cut paper drawings and reliefs, nuanced by a pointed fixation on rudimentary elements. A similar upheaval of and reverence for formalism is conveyed in Matt Phillips’ paintings as picture-making rules are shattered and refracted, alluding at once to physics, psychedelia and high modernism.

Autobiographic works consider the conditions for their creation and the artist’s interior life as a similar workspace, exposing the labor of production as an intrinsic result of their everyday experience. Liz Zanis’ miniature facsimiles of commonplace objects such as wrapped floral bouquets, train tickets and phone books reflect upon and speak to anxieties regarding personal or public perception and exchange. Dirty laundry and the grid appear as equals in a hierarchy of categorical terms in Julianne Ahn’s labor and time intensive works, referencing the intimate mania of art making and domestic life as the physical minutia of one realm is allowed to populate the other. Emulating the work of work, Travis LeRoy Southworth’s spit wad accumulations embody a constant churning of thoughts and desire for action, ruminating at once on where to begin and what could determine an end.

If the idea of the studio distinguishes a place for art-work, or production with the goal of display, then viewing one’s labor as play becomes a radical gesture. Subverting the anticipation of the artist as authority and reconsidering the definitions of emotional, intellectual and physical boundaries, these works fuse these spaces to propose a more unified and fluid concept of making.


Color Your Resume with Liz Zanis: May 22nd
Spit wad workshop with Travis LeRoy Southworth: June 12th