THIS SIDE UP
Type: Art Exhibition
Location: Alden Projects, New York
Exhibition Dates: September 9th to October 16th, 2016
THIS SIDE UP is an installation of new works on paper by the duo of New York-based artists and architects, LOT-EK, at Alden Projects September 09 - October 16; opening Friday, September 09 (6-8 pm). This is LOT-EK's first exhibition in association with Alden Projects.
The title—THIS SIDE UP—is a shifting directional marker, indexing a manner to orient a shipped box or container. It also points like an index finger towards LOT-EK’s technique of détournement—of transposing and re-routing already given, commercial vessels for re-devised purposes. In this exhibition, ordinary cardboard shipping boxes (many retaining their original Amazon and other commercial shipping labels) are re-assembled, and transitioned into wall bound assemblages with actionable titles such as Stacked #1 (img12) and Flattened #1 -both 2016. The series, Foldables (2016) comprises ten folding works on paper fashioned out of flattened, assembled, spray-painted and laser cut cardboard boxes housed in a similar, laser-cut box: containers en abyme suggesting that for LOT-EK, the end has no end in these unfixed, shifting and collapsing volumes of the uncontainable. This syntax of shifters is an industrial alphabet, dreaming towards infinity.
Defying the conventions of two-dimensional painting and drawing as well as those of three dimensional sculpture and architecture, LOT-EK realizes these objects through assembling, unfolding, cutting and removal procedures, chiefly through the meticulous laser-cutting from surfaces of cardboard boxes. The material logic of Gordon Matta-Clark and Carl Andre comes readily to mind, but so too does Robert Rauschenberg's under appreciated series of cardboard-based works from the early 1970s. LOT-EK’s materially modest series swerves from the straight path of architectural drawings. These cuts, these markings, these unfoldings sometimes evoke actual objects and systems of industrialization, including identifiable, architectural projects that LOT-EK has realized in actual space or has dreamed of realizing. But more often than not, these works conjure up the world of material possibility: the shapes of imaginary objects in space, the shapes of potential volumes fleetingly captured in the shape shifting lines and absences in meticulously hewn fibers.
Also on view is Urbanscan Atlas (2016), a nearly one-foot thick, photographic codex containing LOT-EK’s complete image bank of photographic mappings of urban typologies (e.g. containers, manholes, tanks, etc.) printed on vellum. (The duo has been assembling this Urbanscan series for more than two decades). It catalogs urban inspirations and teases out tensions between repetition and difference. It is a kind of autobiography of LOT-EK’s way of seeing that is in some ways comparable to Sol Lewitt’s photographic compilation, Autobiography; this atlas, however, is unique. Containing a selection of the component elements of Urbanscan Atlas is Urbanscan Blocks, a series of 56 wall bound, pre-printed yellow notebooks that have been imprinted by LOT-EK with a large survey of images from the Urbanscan series, but with each notebook stacked according to typology, and with each limited to the already-given number of pages in a pre-printed notebook: 50 images each, with only one of each typology visible on the wall.
LOT-EK is recognized internationally for initiating the concept of creating art and architecture at all scales with infrastructural and industrial objects—most notably, the standard 40-foot shipping container. Whitney Studio, to name one, was commissioned by the Whitney Museum as an “education studio structure” and realized in the courtyard of their landmark Marcel Breuer building 2012. “Through such literal operations as cutting, opening, unfolding, and shifting,” LOT-EK notes, “and through additional strategies of multiplication and repetition, we develop the latent potential of these objects.”
LOT-EK's prior solo exhibitions include the Whitney Museum, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Art Museum, University of Santa Barbara; California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland; Deitch Projects, New York. LOT-EK’s work is included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Guggenheim Museum, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC; The Brooklyn Museum, New York. Installed in 2015, LOT-EK created Alden Projects’ gallery sign on Orchard Street.