Artists Space

Spring Exhibitions

April 12 – June 6, 2009

Artists: Saul Becker, Ilana Halperin, and Francesco Simeti
Curated by Joseph del Pesco, Meredith Johnson and Raimundas Malasauskas

Protruding clusters of dots and triangles form designs in a gray surface.
Ilana Halperin: Physical Geology (slow time). Installation view, Artists Space, 2009. [Protruding clusters of dots and triangles form designs in a gray surface.]

Opening Reception
Thursday, April 9, 7 - 9pm

Saul Becker
Nature Preserves

Saul Becker has spent the last two years collecting weeds near his home in industrial Brooklyn. From unlikely sites – gas stations, polluted Newtown Creek, corner vacant lots – Becker finds the most hearty of natural specimens in disregarded and unnatural sites. By developing a system of electroplating each plant sample, he archives what is overlooked, undocumented, and generally stepped on our built over. At Artists Space, Becker will exhibit for the first time his electroplated plants, creating idealized fields of flora from un-idealized sources. In collaboration with sound artist and composer Stephen Vitiello, Becker’s plant specimens incorporate sound, echoing their Brooklyn homes. These objects, long used as a reference for Becker’s landscape paintings of industrial sites, are preserved and unlikely objects of beauty. Fierce underdogs of our city’s industrial past and present, the work reminds us that nature is always just below (or creeping above) the surface.

Ilana Halperin
Physical Geology (slow time)

Ilana Halperin’s work explores an impulse to make physical contact with geological time. While conducting research in the geology department at the Manchester Museum, Halperin discovered a fine collection of lava medallions from Mount Vesuvius—magma pressed between forged steel plates to form an imprint (imagine a waffle iron that makes use of lava instead of pancake batter). During her research, she also came across a small stone relief sculpture that appeared to be carved out of pure white alabaster. The object was in fact a limestone cast created via the same process that forms stalactites in a cave—the residue of a high velocity calcifying process. These findings have led Halperin to contemplate the notion of physical geological time—fast moving lava flows vs. slow time inside a cave. Halperin’s overarching project is to make a geological time diptych involving new lava medallions and cave casts, allowing slow and fast time to hover alongside each other.

Francesco Simeti
Volatili

For over a decade Francesco Simeti has disrupted the decorative history of wallpaper. Through the composition and collage of images borrowed from news and world media into patterns for domestic interiors, Simeti instigates social commentary and political tension. For his most recent project he has collaborated with nine patients in a long-term care facility for the mentally disabled. Located in San Colombano (northern Italy), Simeti’s collaboration is the fourth of an ongoing series of residencies called “Acrobazie” (Acrobatics). After months of experimentation with the group, Simeti introduced his ongoing interest in the work of American ornithologist John James Audubon, whose paintings and 435 life-size prints in “Birds of America” have become an iconic treasure for naturalists. As a symbol of freedom and mobility, birds have a particularly deep resonance for the patients who suffer a feeling of homelessness and instability due to periodic uprooting and transfer by the Italian government. The final wallpaper is a compilation of their drawings inspired by Audubon’s work and assembled by Simeti. The wallpaper is presented with the individual work of the patients, framed and mounted on a papered wall.

A painting of a woman with blonde hair and a cape hangs on a wallpapered wall. The wallpaper is white with colorful images of tropical birds in trees.
Francesco Simeti: Volatili. Installation view, Artists Space, 2009. [A painting of a woman with blonde hair and a cape hangs on a wallpapered wall. The wallpaper is white with colorful images of tropical birds in trees.]
A large room with wood floors. In the right corner, there is a wall creating a corner that is covered in colorful wallpaper with images of tropical birds on trees. Several framed pictures cover one side, partially obscured by a white column. There are three standing plinths with glass tops, housing dried brown plants.
Spring Exhibitions. Installation view, Artists Space, 2009. [A large room with wood floors. In the right corner, there is a wall creating a corner that is covered in colorful wallpaper with images of tropical birds on trees. Several framed pictures cover one side, partially obscured by a white column. There are three standing plinths with glass tops, housing dried brown plants.]
Ten white pieces of paper hang on a wall, each with a slightly varying circular brand. To the right of the wall is a white plinth, with a wooden and glass case that is housing several objects.
Spring Exhibitions. Installation view, Artists Space, 2009. [Ten white pieces of paper hang on a wall, each with a slightly varying circular brand. To the right of the wall is a white plinth, with a wooden and glass case that is housing several objects.]
Wallpaper printed with tropical birds in colorful trees on a white background covers a large wall. There are assorted black-framed, colorful images hung on the wall, in both portrait and landscape orientation.
Spring Exhibitions. Installation view, Artists Space, 2009. [Wallpaper printed with tropical birds in colorful trees on a white background covers a large wall. There are assorted black-framed, colorful images hung on the wall, in both portrait and landscape orientation.]
An installation shot of a gallery room. There are two black plinths with glass-encased tops. On the left, the glass cover has two speakers embedded in it, facing inward toward the dried grasses which it covers. On the right, the glass covers brown grasses standing in white sand. On the back wall between the two plinths, there is a print of green leaves encircling a yellow background.
Spring Exhibitions. Installation view, Artists Space, 2009. [An installation shot of a gallery room. There are two black plinths with glass-encased tops. On the left, the glass cover has two speakers embedded in it, facing inward toward the dried grasses which it covers. On the right, the glass covers brown grasses standing in white sand. On the back wall between the two plinths, there is a print of green leaves encircling a yellow background.]
Two black plinths stand in the center of an otherwise empty room. Each has a glass-encased top protecting a patch of grass, lit from below by a white light.
Spring Exhibitions. Installation view, Artists Space, 2009. [Two black plinths stand in the center of an otherwise empty room. Each has a glass-encased top protecting a patch of grass, lit from below by a white light.]
A smooth, white branch extends up from the floor vertically. Behind it is a wall, papered with a pattern of tropical birds in trees on a white background.
Spring Exhibitions. Installation view, Artists Space, 2009. [A smooth, white branch extends up from the floor vertically. Behind it is a wall, papered with a pattern of tropical birds in trees on a white background.]