Artists Lilian Kreutzberger and Yasue Maetake were recently featured in an exhibition exploring intimate architectural systems of culture, ecology, society, and technology at Hometown in New York. The title Passing Index lends itself to the idea of limited experiences pertaining to these systems of ecology and the materials of both man-made and organic production. Gallery owner and curator Adam Yokell spoke with us on how his relationship with the artists and their works brought these narratives together in one moment, reflecting on material and identity of each work. Passing Index was featured at the beginning of this summer opening May 1 and ran through June 19.
An index is an indicator or measure of something, a sign that denotes an external reality, be it material or cultural. Kreutzberger and Maetake’s works display indexical traces of extensive working over, with marks that reflect process and hint at former states of being. Employing a visual vocabulary that is abstract yet suggestive, these works intimate systems which may be architectural, social, technological, or ecological.
Read more about Passing Index from the press release.
Hometown was established in 2015 by Adam Yokell. Yokell’s passionate relationship with various entities of the art world led his pursuit of Hometown to be fully dedicated to creating and curating shows with contemporary artists. As a native New Yorker, the name Hometown is more than a reference to Yokell’s geographical roots. Hometown acts as a memorable and relatable experience for each of its unique visitors regardless of their background in the hopes that they might have a direct personal connection to the gallery and the artists within it.
Hometown is located at 1002 Metropolitan Avenue, #21 in Brooklyn, New York. You can see a full list of exhibitions upcoming and past on their website by following this link.
Tell me a little bit about Passing Index and the artists Lilian Kreutzberger and Yasue Maetake. How did you discover the relationship with these artists and the narrative they share in their works?
The idea was to introduce these two artists and place them in dialogue. Passing Index started when I realized that in their own ways, each artist was considering how individual and group identity and values are reflected and indexed by the products and systems that we develop—and at the same time, the artists were interested in how those products and systems and their component materials are often ephemeral, limited or failing in some way, thus the title of the exhibition.
Can you tell me more about Kreutzberger’s work and what is exhibited in Passing Index?
In her recent practice, Kreutzberger has researched mid-century modernist architecture and housing projects in the US and abroad, taking an interest in those which failed to achieve their intended purpose of improving the social and economic conditions around them—for instance, the famous Pruitt-Igoe building in Saint Louis, which was built in the 1950s and then demolished in the 1970s after it became apparent that the housing project and related poverty, crime and segregation was hurting rather than helping city life. Kreutzberger created an architectural model for an impossible building-tower based on the Pruitt-Igoe and other buildings using design software and laser cutting technology—and that project gave rise to the wall reliefs featured in Passing Index, which are made from laser-cut wood and plaster, and which visually recall architectural plans, overhead mappings of cities or other systems, and computer motherboards in varying states of decay and obsolescence.
Maetake’s work also plays significant roles in shaping architectural narratives that are important in Passing Index. Can you explain her work as it pertains to this show and how her practice is rooted in material representation?
In Maetake’s sculptural and fiber practices, she is continually interested in the relationship between the man-made and the organic, as well as the physical character of the diverse materials and processes incorporated into her work. Maetake’s sculptures appear on the one hand as organic forms resembling hybrids of animal, plant and landscape—but at the same time, the works are often composed in significant part of recognizable industrial materials such as steel rebar, screws and pipe joints and found or recycled materials such as found wood or metal, or even old drawings or printed material, which Maetake deliberately leaves visible in the finished works. In this way, the works represent a melding of nature and industry into original forms that appear either post or pre-historic, but not of this time—and through the inclusion of these recognizable and found components, the works also exist as aggregations of social or cultural material, like time capsules from the past or future.
How do these artists create form and color to represent entropy in nature and material?
In Lilian Kreutzberger’s wall reliefs, which are made from laser-cut wood and plaster, and which can evoke associations to architectural plans, overhead city mappings, and computer motherboards in varying states of disuse or decay, Kreutzberger choice of materials and process both enables and reflects the conceptual basis of her project. The laser-cutting process often leaves visible burning around the edges of the wood, and the plaster areas, which Kreutzberger sometimes dyes with acrylic paint, can appear porous and imperfect, and can resemble cement or even volcanic rock depending on their coloring and texture—so both process and treatment of materials may suggest organic matter and its ephemerality, which ultimately reflects back on the research and historical sensitivity supporting Kreutzberger’s project. Kreutzberger also employs sanding as a technique when creating her wall reliefs, bringing out underlying colors and grains in the wood, another method by which to develop the work’s final character.
In both Maetake’s sculpture and fiber work, she is keenly aware of the physical qualities of the materials comprising the work, and the way that these qualities—and the external forms of her work—reflect the broader concepts addressed in her practice, including the contemplation of both organic and industrial matter relative to natural factors such as gravity and time. Accordingly, Maetake’s works often assume a weathered and conditioned appearance—and she may selectively burn, oxidize, paint, or apply other treatments to certain areas of her works in order to express her vision. Continually interested in gravity, Maetake sometimes suspends the component parts of her sculptures from the studio ceiling before fixing them together, allowing gravity and balance to directly influence their final compositions, and in so doing, acknowledging that all things ultimately return to earth.
Last modified: August 4, 2016