Are we traveling from the rational to the emotional, from artificial intelligence to the Stone Age? 2024: a year to pay attention and to think everything over. Bienvenu Steinberg & J is pleased to present The Stone Age. The fifteen international artists document a moment where articulated thought seems to fade away, where binary thinking replaces nuance, where opinion replaces concept. The exhibition is an imaginary dig into a crystallized landscape almost devoid of human presence.
Women’s March by Jim Campbell depicts the 2019 protest with pixels abstracted and blurred to the brink of near-illegibility. His work reflects our primal ability to discern patterns and objects, translating them into coherent significance despite a paucity of information. Campbell’s work probes intrinsic questions relating to the human mind, digital memory, and the transmutation of data into knowledge. His work echoes an archaic allegory, prompting us to consider: are we, prisoners within a cave, only capable of making sense of flickering lights and shadows? In Canary II and Canary Red I by Daniella Dooling, a bird is captured frozen in isolation, flight halted and embalmed in resin casts of natural crystal formations. Historically, canaries were brought into coal mines as whistleblowers, they could discern carbon dioxide long before it registered for the miners. In Dooling’s works, the canaries are displayed within medical hardware armatures. The crystals reminiscent of vanishing glaciers are warning signals of an impending catastrophe that has already happened.
Stefana McClure’s Protest Stones embody the ambiguous relation between language and violence, between protesting and protecting. The hanging sculptures, lassos awaiting to be thrown, remind us that poetry is not auxiliary to history, but also creates it. Encrusted, almost like lichen on the surface of the stones, are selected poems by feminist Persian writer Forough Farrokhzad. Each stone is intricately nested in twine, suggesting both a timeless weapon and tool for catharsis. Alina Bliumis’ text-based sculptural works, Concrete Poems, are reminiscent of passerby’s marking their existence on drying concrete, graffiti and absurdist poetry. Imagination/nation, Same/Me, Chimera/Era: associative threads often lead to playful semiotic interrogations.
Marco Maggi also turns abstraction into cultural criticism, his visual language refers to the way information is processed in a global yet myopic era. Cornerstone has the structure of an open book. The left side is a ream of paper with tiny incisions, the right side is a stone of the same dimensions sprinkled with paper cut outs extracted from the page. The diminutive fragments disseminated on the stone surface follow the rules and syntax of any accumulation of sediments; language left without context. Using Blender and 3d printing as tools, Adriana Furlong hacks architectural symbologies into domestic spaces, crafting traces of working lives and transforming desire into concrete form. Working with bas-reliefs found around New York City, Furlong reorganizes the architectural fragments, creating a nuanced and fictional archaeology
In Flotsam and Rubble, Martí Cormand navigates the intersections of the found and the constructed. Utilizing oil paint and architectural-style renderings, Cormand explores objects that exist at the crossroads of authenticity and artifice, creating a visual language that transcends the linear constraints of time. The objects are displayed side by side like ancient artifacts, meticulously crafted fragments of history. Fernanda Fragateiro’s Demolition Notes edges out precariously from the wall. Adopting a leftover masonry fragment from a renovation project in the center of Lisbon, Fragateiro propagates an alter-archive for a “non-valuable” fragment of the city. Kenji Fujita presents two rocks from his Excavations Series. Incorporating his studio refuse, he amalgamates disparate found elements to create sculptures that resemble geological cuts into a rock filled with multicolored elements.
Julianne Swartz examines the primal and the innate. Anthropomorphic in form, Invocation Speaker #8, hovers in space between recognition and the abject, suggesting at once the curve of a body part and a remnant of some burnt mechanical relic. Jane Yang D’Haene’s ceramics also stand in for the body. She incorporates glazing techniques to conjure diverse textures, hues, and gestures. A translucent paste leaks from a cavity, irregular openings resemble the crater of a volcano: a constant state of transformation is articulated through. In a new body of work exhibited for the first time, Adam Fuss incorporates burning as a medium, to create ambiguous and stunning objects. A large rectangle is filled with what appears to be a multitude of fragments of burnt documents. From afar, the image reads as a textural abstraction in a gradation of monochrome, a collage in three dimensions. The fragments of ashes are captured on the verge of turning to dust. "Is there a spiritual element to being alive?” The question is at the heart of all Fuss' work.
In the intricate process of carving, sandblasting, and etching, Jane Rosen conjures contemplative tableaus of suspended time—three bottles that seem to have escaped from a Morandi painting or fossilized models one might stumble on if his studio had been in Pompeii. Djamal Tatah's Untitled portrays two hooded figures—one with eyes cast downwards, the other resting his brow resignedly upon his palm; an updated version of Rodin’s The Thinker. The dark purple background imposes a dead air between the characters, hedging in a space to step back and examine one's relationship to others.