Manfred Fuchs Untitled 2002 12" x 16" mixed media on paper [installation view]
Michelle Marozik Office Cubicle 2004 8.5" x11" [installation view]
Bethany Bristow Blue and Orange Drawing 2002 ink on vellum [installation view]
Bill Gerhard Four Day Exposure 2006 black paper 12" x 18" [installation view]
The pioneering artist-run Williamsburg gallery currently devoted to a solo show of work by Jim Turok is known around the world as much for what is not hanging on its walls (meaning its extraordinary flat files) as for its ability to turn up, show and support great work while continuously serving as the vital heart of a community of artists. While most of Pierogi's files are still stowed on North 7 Street, Austin Thomas's "Pocket Utopia" has mounted a tribute to what Joe Amrhein, its founder, has accomplished and continues to accomplish. For the first official show in her space on Flushing Avenue, just five stops east of the Bedford stop on the L line, she has borrowed and hung pieces by 20 artists whose works on paper normally hang out in Amrhein's drawers.
On her lively gallery blog Thomas describes a selection process which had to somehow eliminate 98% of the material available:
The file has 900 artists in it, maybe more. I had to come up with some sort of structure to review it. Mike (husband) entered all 900 names into a spreadsheet, then we determined that 88 artists was a representative sample, so he had a computer program select 88 artists randomly. With a list containing the 88 artists in hand, I went looking through the files and guess what? I was still overwhelmed. I sat immobilized for weeks as the opening date of Pocket Utopia approached. Finally, I selected 20 artists from the 88 randomly selected artists because that's the number of artists that Pierogi showed in their first show at Four Walls.
My process might seem random, but I think that's how the art world works. Funny, the computer didn't select my name. I've had work in the Flatfile for about 10 years. I always try to put new and my best work in, and maybe that's why the 20 artists I chose are consistently good.
I'm amused that the presence of both random and curatorial elements in the story of how these particular works were drawn to Bushwick doesn't seem to me to be so different from that which artists also experience in the larger world, where some capricious combination of chance and merit determines whether work gets to be shown.
Thomas is right when she writes that the work is good, and some of it is very good indeed.
The complete list of artists in the exhibition:
Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson
I'd like to add a couple more images, and a few words, on Bill Gerhard's work, on the excuse that one of the two pieces of his in the show presents the drama of an evolving site-specific installation. "Four Day Exposure" from 2006, and shown above, hangs on the left wall of the gallery, but "Window Aperture", is both a 2007 installation and a work in progress.
Gerhard uses the sun as a drawing tool, exposing black construction paper to form minimal shapes, in these cases simple rectangles The two thumbnail images below show the second work, first the face of the paper as it appeared at night from the sidewalk in front of the south-facing building and then the reverse side as visible from inside the gallery.