Pamela Rosenkranz, Firm Beings, installation view, 2011
For it’s inaugural exhibition in the newly renovated 16 Wooster Street a gallery space previously owned by Jeffrey Deitch, Swiss Institute has organized an exhibition featuring artists Pamela Rosenkranz and Nikolas Gambaroff. Curated by Institute director Gianni Jetzer and titled This Is Not My Color / The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People it encompasses the large main space of the gallery. Swiss Institute has taken the sometimes derogatory term “white box” to another level, renovating the interior of the gallery whereas the floor, walls and ceiling all have the same/similar patina. The effect is clean, bright and a pleasant surprise. Regarding the exhibit, both artists were born in 1979 and Nikolas Gambaroff lives in New York while Pamela Rosenkranz is based in Amsterdam and Zurich. Interwoven within the glossy layers of content, is each artist focusing on research based exploration that relates in some form or another to the body. Pamela begins with color theory while Nikolas concentrates on using objects as a visual marker for people or persons. It is here that their worlds collide conceptually.
Pamela Rosenkranz, The most important Body of Water is Yours
(Uniquely balanced, unlike Anyone else), installation view, 2011
In her series Firm Beings, shown in the first photograph above, Pamela Rosenkranz refills water bottles with liquid that takes on various shades of human flesh. The result is not necessarily thirst quenching, but is the artist’s way of commenting on “designer” waters and Socio-demographics. The verticality of the water bottle is far from a figure in standing position, however, in a hint of irony she chooses to impose upon this commercial product changing its visual appeal and clarity. Also included is the series The most important Body of Water is Yours (Uniquely balanced, unlike Anyone else) which consists of brightly colored paintings on spandex. The size of each work is established based on the standard measurement of an emergency blanket. In both particular bodies of work she challenges the viewer by not giving obvious clues into her artistic agenda.
Utilizing a similar form of “bodily” absence, Nikolas Gambaroff presents the work The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People which was originally exhibited in Bergen Kunsthall, 2010. The piece consists of an installation of objects which merge painting, sculpture and assemblage. In a reference to traditional painting, he chooses to wrap canvas around every day objects. He raises questions regarding the process of painting, the relationship of paint to surface and begs the viewer to reformat his/her initial conscious understanding of painting as practice.
From the press release:
The installation of works as mise-en-scene further destabilizes painterly praxis. Shown as assemblage, the artist combines canvases with domestic objects, thus positioning painting as a shield, as a shelf, or as a tabletop in of-wall installations.
Aesthetically, both Rosenkranz and Gambaroff make work that within the context and frame of the setting gallery is quite visually appealing. The installation compositionally interacts with the cubed room and dissects the negative space. However, even with hints into their personal artistic agenda conceptually intertwined in individual series, the abstraction of the content is difficult to decipher without a thorough reading of the accompanying text. This isn’t a new development in the world of conceptual art, however it requires patience even beyond that of a well trained eye. Psychologically daunting, if visually stimulating, This Is Not My Color / The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People may leave most viewers searching for more clearly defined answers. Hopefully they will have the desire to read the press release and if not, walk away with the installation tucked subconsciously in a cerebral file for future use.
This Is Not My Color / The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is on view at the new and improved Swiss Institute / Contemporary Art until October 30th, 2011. Also in the lobby of the gallery is Books on Books, curated by Christoph Schifferli in conjunction with the New York Art Book Fair which will be open to the public from September 29th (preview) until October 2nd, 2011 at MoMA PS1.