Paul Ramírez Jonas, Aggregate


Paul Ramírez Jonas: Aggregate

October 17–December 7, 2013

Opening Reception: Thursday, October 17, 6–8PM

Koenig & Clinton is pleased to present its first solo exhibition of recent works by Paul Ramírez Jonas. Aggregate introduces the latest iterations of the artist’s sustained inquiry into the social conditions that shape public voice, constitutive bodies, and political agency.

On view in the main gallery, five cork busts present a series of anti-monuments whose conventional forms are subverted by angular cuts to each face. These cuts deliberately obscure and de-center the identity of the memorialized figure. Monuments, commonly fabricated with permanent materials, are often set out of reach with the purpose of inscribing public spaces indelibly. Counter to this tradition, the cork that is used for the Ventriloquist series is covered in pushpins. Each anonymous monolith surrenders its discursive power and submits its authority to a public. In turn, that public will transform each monument into a communal bulletin board by posting its own messages. Ultimately, the Ventriloquist sculptures assert that public voice is not necessarily permanent nor singular; it can instead reflect the fragility, contingency, and plurality of the general populace.

Building upon Ramírez Jonas’ earlier Admit One drawings, the new Assembly drawings present overlaid floor plans of multiple designated meeting places and the precise seating arrangements of the assembled publics within them. Stamped admission tickets stand in for every seat that awaits occupation. Whereas each Admit One renders a single architectural site, each Assembly imagines how separate spaces of deliberation (Congress), of action (meeting halls), and of spectacle (cinema) might intersect. Through this process, Assembly reveals unwitting ideological interdependencies and problematizes similarities between seemingly unrelated cultural spaces.

Near the gallery entrance, Witness My Hand asserts that a photocopy machine serves as an excellent pedestal. Pedestals are commonly tasked with the duty of ‘making’ public sculpture official. Witness My Hand inverts this gesture by allowing the viewer to duplicate and publish the underside of the sculpture. In this way, a photocopier is a magic base. It materially supports original artwork on its glass surface, while potentially disseminating an endless number of copies—at least until the toner runs out. Paying homage to Piero Manzoni’s Magic Bases (1961), Witness My Hand no longer elevates the artist, no longer serves as a pedestal to power; it is democratic yet debased, it is generous but empty.

The artwork of Paul Ramírez Jonas (b. 1965, Honduras) has been the subject of exhibitions at The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; and Pinacoteca do Estado, São Paolo, among others. Additionally, his works have been featured in notable group exhibitions including the 53rd Venice Biennale, the Johannesburg Biennale, the Seoul Biennial, the Shanghai Biennial, the 28a Bienal de São Paulo, and Convergence Center at The Park Avenue Armory. He is the recipient of a number of awards including the ArtMatters Grant; National Endowment for the Arts, Inter Arts exhibition grant; Howard Foundation Fellowship; and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, among others. Ramírez Jonas’ work resides in numerous public collections internationally.

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