“Dematerialization,” an exhibition curated by Jamie PNG, will be on view at Pterodactyl gallery in Philadelphia this November. The group show features fourteen artists, seven of which are members of the MFAST community: Brooke Sturtevant Sealover (MFAST ‘11), Leah Cooper (MFAST ’09), Todd Keyser (MFAST ’11), Elizabeth (Renee) Hamilton (MFAST ’10), Bart O’Reilly (MFAST ’12), Jassie Rios (MFAST ’11), Tobin Rothlein (MFAST ’13). Below is the text from the press release.
Since the introduction of technology into art, there has been an undeniable shift in aesthetic relations – transformed on a massive scale since the postwar era. As a result, the readymade, the copy, and photography all now possess the same inherent value as that which was once only ascribed to modernist painting and sculpture. Still, many institutions, art-makers and art-buyers in the mid-Atlantic region still produce and value works that operate as if this permanent alteration of the appearance and content of contemporary art had never occurred.
With this group exhibition, we seek to engage this discrepancy, exploring the role of technology in works that question formal and conceptual boundaries of long-held modernist idioms.
Many contemporary artists and art production have aligned with minimalist Donald Judd’s 1965 declaration of “disinterest in doing [painting and sculpture] again”. Even though Modern Art made contributions to novelty and conceptual difficulty primarily through sculpture and painting, the conventions of these mediums soon became eclipsed by a Frankfurt School-influenced impulse to reveal social and ethical truths. Later, in the post-modern 1980s, an opposition emerged between neo-expressionist painting and neo-conceptualist art – the latter of which inherited much of its aesthetic construction from conceptual photographers of the 1970s.
However, without taking any definitive position for either the difficulty of modern art or the critical realism of conceptual photography, the critique of culture and naturalism is a debate that has largely ceased to be of any importance in the major discourse of contemporary art.
Yet some cities that are geographically located outside the main centers of globalized art (New York, London, Berlin, etc) are still locked into an opposing dialectic between difficulty/novelty and social critique.
Dematerialization features a number of artists from the Philadelphia and Baltimore areas whose work falls outside the conventions of Modern Art. The works in this exhibition embrace an everyday materiality, shrugging off the norms of conventional ‘painting’ and ‘sculpture’. At the same time, these artists also operate in a variety of ways as cultural agents in the contemporary art world: curators, assistants, gallery-personnel and directors, art historians, educators, and theorists.
Their dual roles as art-makers and industry professionals side-steps (yet perhaps also encompasses) the popular notion of Artist as Specialized Genius – inaugurated by late nineteenth century romanticism and later adopted by modern art. Like Renaissance men and the early 20th century Russian avant-garde artists, these artists allow themselves to operate at the center of emerging technology and cultural frontiers.