June 5 – October 30, 2021
Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to present Feedback at The School, organized by Helen Molesworth.
JANET CARDIFF &
GEORGE BURES MILLER
MUNA EL FITURI
KERRY JAMES MARSHALL
ROSE B. SIMPSON
Several years ago, I had an encounter with Janet Cardiff’s sound installation, Feedback. I stood in a room by myself and fiddled around tentatively with the wah wah peddle, slowly gaining the courage to put the pedal to the metal and brace myself for the sound explosion that happened next. “Damn!” I thought, “I gotta find a way to do something with this.” This exhibition is my rejoinder, my response to her call.
Thank god for the mess that is Wikipedia. (Even though I’ve tried multiple times, to no avail, to change the errors in the Wikipedia entry that bears my name.) I sure hope the entry on “feedback” is correct:
Feedback occurs when outputs of a system are routed back as inputs as part of a chain of cause-and-effect that forms a circuit or loop. The system can then be said to feed back into itself. The notion of cause-and-effect has to be handled carefully when applied to feedback systems:
Simple causal reasoning about a feedback system is difficult because the first system influences the second and second system influences the first, leading to a circular argument. This makes reasoning based upon cause and effect tricky, and it is necessary to analyze the system as a whole.
— Karl Johan Åström and Richard M.Murray, Feedback Systems: An Introduction for Scientists and Engineers.
Even though The School was built in 1929, when I first walked across its threshold in the summer of 2018 I was overwhelmed by a kind of auditory hallucination. I swore I could still hear the din of the kids, running, laughing, shouting, breathing, playing—moving all that air and energy around with their young rambunctious, soft bodies. As I moved through the beautifully renovated spaces an exhibition began to form in my head.
How do we learn? Where do we learn? What do we learn? Somewhere along the line, I don’t remember how or when, I learned about the history of America. So many of the stories I was told left out so many of the pertinent details that now much of what I once thought of as history feels like a miscarriage of justice.
I loved school. I hated school. I learned a lot that wasn’t necessarily being “taught.” Like from watching people, from looking at things. I was the kind of kid who liked to touch stuff. Early on I had ideas about beauty and color, texture and sound. I was keenly attuned to space. What was I learning—about America, about myself, about society—when I was daydreaming in school, or playing tag in the yard, or picking flowers?
Feedback is filled with art works by artists who I’ve been following for a while. In other words, artists I “like” and who I have asked to gather together today to form an assembly, a class, a chorus. I was curious about what kind of knowledge we might be able to produce together. Some of the artists are interested in the twisted history of America. Others are interested in the persistence of quotidian pleasures as best exemplified by still life or contemporary tableaux of everyday life. Some artists have combined their sense of America’s untold narratives with the gentle ebb and flow of daily life. Some are sharing their daydreams, others their nightmares. Everywhere there is attention to craft, the handmade, the body. Each artist plays with the building blocks of visual art: color, light, shape, texture, material, improvisation, form. Together, the works on view offer a microcosm, a snapshot in time, of the feedback loop that is culture—people make things that help us learn things, that allow us to think things, that help us to ask questions, that propel us to make things. Feedback plays with what happens when the eternal return of the same is also the eternal return of difference. (Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…) Feedback toggles back and forth between the past, present, and the future (working to keep the cynicism at bay), by stoking the small and tender fires of each artist’s experience of the feedback loop called America.
-Helen Molesworth, curator
Concurrently on view at Jack Shainman Gallery is Anti Body, at 513 West 20th Street and Leslie Wayne, The Universe is on the Inside, 524 West 24th Street through June 19th. Upcoming exhibitions include Deidrick Brackens at 513 West 20th Street, opening June 24th.
The School is open on Saturdays from 11AM to 6PM. For press inquiries please contact Kate Morais, Sutton, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 212 202 3402. For other inquiries please contact the gallery at email@example.com.