Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Jennifer Williams


In Manhattan, haphazardly piled debris routinely materializes as temporary curbside “installations” before being dismantled and destroyed the next morning as “trash”. These moments become the raw material for my work; their shapes and colors become a language of marks that transcend their origins and purpose, giving them new life.

Freed from gravity and purpose, these incongruous idiosyncratic structures autonomously perpetuate themselves in acts of solidarity and liberation, flowing much like paint on canvas. My collages are a response to the radical physical change within the aging nineteenth century neighborhood of the Lower East Side, my home for the last seventeen years. As they slide between modern color digital images and archaic monotone photographic drawings, their materiality mimics the disparate streetscape facades containing ancient crumbling tenements as well as shiny state-of-the-art condos; their forms explore the anxiety of gentrification.

Over time, the pristine states of mind created from darkroom and studio have morphed to encompass a more organic kind of canvas, and images are beginning to be put back on the streets where their forms began. The obvious collaboration material, a construction barricade, is equally as ephemeral as a trash pile. While construction barricades disrupt our sense of place by genericising stretches of sidewalk, they act as vague placeholders for "the future", ultimately functioning as faceless voids in an otherwise diverse street level landscape. “Free” street spaces are nocturnally filled with some form of street style “on-the-fly” mark making: movie posters are slathered onto their surfaces, paint colors are hastily applied to every nook and cranny, graffiti tags are scrawled on top of each other, all creating a system of unique symbols and signifiers. By collaborating with these pre-determined slap dash irregular surfaces, my work speaks with their native elements by both becoming one with and overlapping the marks present. They add sounds to a language that seems almost familiar (fly-posting, tagging, etc.), but become a language all of their own, like alien graffiti.

Jennifer William

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