In Translation: Jonathan Bouknight, Ben Schonberger, Nathan Sharratt
Curated by Stuart Horodner
This exhibition brings together three artists interested in how information and experience can be translated from one state to another. They each start with a provocative “original” that can be manipulated or modified through combinations of hand-made and technological acts, and their investigations speak to the possibilities or limits of such changes.
Jonathan Bouknight’s videos feature collaborators who wear makeup and costumes, performing tasks set by the artist that often question gender roles and the construction of daily rituals. In the past year, he has filmed short video sequences of couples in movement, and then made contour drawings while watching the footage. The resulting works, on Mylar or tall strips of white butcher paper, have a tentative and skittish nature. They illustrate the discordance that arises when one tries to capture the condition of looking at one thing while doing another.
Ben Schonberger‘s project Beautiful Pig is a collaboration with Marty Gaynor, a retired Detroit police officer who took thousands of photographs during his years on the force, including Polaroids of criminals before their arrest. Schonberger’s ordering of this personal/professional archive and his insistence that Gaynor annotate the images, speaks to the artist’s interest in issues of power, memory, vulnerability, and trust. A large portrait of the elder cop shows him at the Jewish synagogue he has attended throughout his life, wearing his blue uniform and a bevy of signifiers –– his shield, handcuffs, medals, prayer shawl, and yarmulke.
Nathan Sharratt uses ink-jet plotters and 3-D modeling software to examine the route from intention to outcome. He has recently read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a creation story that combines flesh and fantasy, as well as morality; he found the 1816 text relevant to his productions and a notion of the “studio as lab.” Sharratt regularly moves from computer screen to printer to wall and tabletop, where he can track the evolution of a range of printed and sculptural works that start with his own face and body, and quickly become new information systems.
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