Now on view at Equity Gallery in the Lower East Side is a notable group exhibition, cogently titled Making Sense Without Consensus, with works by 14 remarkable artists and 3 astute curators at the helm. The exhibition statement says that these artists explore reality through fragmented connections and geometric materiality, “investigating whether the linearity of time is real or if past and future overlap.”
In further absorbing what this exhibition might represent, I also want to offer an illuminating quote from The Radicant (2009), an essay by celebrated curator and critic Nicolas Bourriaud. This thought piece provides context for the development of Making Sense Without Consensus:
“In ordinary language, ‘modernizing’ has come to mean reducing cultural and social reality to Western formats. And today, modernism amounts to a form of complicity with colonialism and Eurocentrism. Let us bet on a modernity which, far from absurdly duplicating that of the last century, would be specific to our epoch and would echo its own problematics: an alter modernity …”
I had the privilege of posing 3 short answer questions to exhibition curator Luciana Solano.
What was the impetus or gemination moment that propelled the development of this exhibition?
Luciana Solano: Our exhibition, Making Sense Without Consensus, was both an extension and continuation of a series of projects that happened over the course of the pandemic, including an exhibition titled Intersections in Union Square, sponsored by Chashama, and including a curatorial team of Hayley Ferber and myself with Michael Gormley and Priska Juschka; and a Spring Curatorial Residency at Equity Gallery, also administered with Hayley Ferber, during which we mentored emerging curators on developing an exhibition and working with artists. This curatorial incubator culminated with an exhibition produced by the mentee curators titled, Only If We Want To. For this new project, Hayley and I brought in our valued partner Anita Goes to develop an exhibition concerning the fragmented world contrasted with working in a world of interconnectedness.
As a viewer, I experience an introspective tranquility in many of the works in this exhibition, which fascinates me as the exhibition premise feels rooted in tension. I find this dichotomy to be extraordinary. How were the artists selected?
Luciana Solano: Thank you for asking about this. We didn’t want to convey a linear narrative; instead, we wanted to create a magnetic experience of artworks that shared relational aesthetics. Much of the emotionality you are experiencing was deeply considered during our installation process. There is no unified center (horizon line) in the hanging of our exhibition. We were captivated to find ways to utilize the work and illustrate our message by letting the art live on the floors, in corners, and up into the ceiling of the space. We repeated the work of artists, and even repeated repetitions to achieve a sense of language, interconnectedness, and scale.
Another note is that many of the works shown have political meanings packed inside their relationships. All these things I’ve just mentioned express a shared mindset of, “everything in a place to accomplish a single relationship.”
Share something you’ve learned or were reminded of via the curatorial process of this exhibition.
Luciana Solano: Looking at each of our preceding group projects, and equally the work we collaborated on together for this exhibition, I would surmise that the big lesson or reminder could be to, “always make space for calamity.” During each project, everyone brought a wide swath of ideas, writings, artists, etc. to the consideration set; and all of these projects initially looked like calamity (or what I laughingly refer to as a “bag of cats”). It was through careful listening and editing that we were able to incubate the vision of our final shared idea.
After my curatorial discussion, I also wanted to glean a perspective from some of the participating artists, and so I wrote to several of them, asking if they might also share something that they had learned (or were reminded of) about their work through their participation in this exhibition.
Ana Biolchini: Making Sense Without Consensus brought me the live experience of the power of presence and connections, primordial concepts in my artwork. Through the relationships between the artists’ works and the exhibition space, I was able to see an invisible thread connecting them all, evoking a sense of unity.
Bel Falleiros: When invited to participate on Making Sense Without Consensus with this work I knew I had to place/ground it in a meaningful way. It was very interesting for me to notice that the only tilted wall of the gallery, that has a window that opens to the outside, is facing East. Because the work was made on megalithic monuments that make an enclosure open to that cardinal direction, I chose to place it on the ground facing that East wall. As if I could honor that cardinal direction where the sun rises every day, even in a busy, overbuilt city – it felt good to place Reminders in a landscape that deeply needed that reminder. The opportunity to install this work at Equity Gallery, in the midst of New York City, amplified my way of seeing the work and enhanced in me the awareness of the importance of these kinds of reminders in an urban setting.
Linda King Ferguson: Seeing my Equivalence Series with thirteen other artists in Making Sense Without Consensus brings the material language of abstraction to the forefront of my thinking; how gestures and process convey objective meaning, directing the viewer from physical means to metaphorical cues that position and frame the work in time and space. I think of my Equivalence Series of works as social bodies. Their constructed geometric forms are carefully cut open, revealing the interior and backside of the cut piece, and another of the social space and architectural wall. These cuts are a physical opening, a between or threshold of reveal, disclosing what is at stake through the material balance of openness and closure, fragility and stability, and inside and outside, conditions that contextualize and support each other.
Will Hutnick: Recently, I have been trying to incorporate symmetry into my work more (for example, High Noon, 2021, featured in the exhibition). In attempting to make some sort of sense – or rather, carve out my own sense of reality – amidst the chaos and surreality of the world right now, I’ve been gravitating towards playing with symmetrical compositions within my work. I feel compelled to create something stable, seemingly fixed, calm, or at least, begin my work by implementing a symmetrical. relatively stable structure to respond to (and then seeing what happens from there within the work). Through participation in Making Sense… at Equity Gallery and witnessing the varied ways in which other artists are attempting to make sense of the discordant world and their own experiences, I’m reminded of the unique sensibilities and stabilizing force of patterns and symmetry, and the ways in which artworks can help provide a space to be more present.
Sara Jimenez: In this group exhibition I was moved by different visual expressions of temporality. It reminded me of the origins of the work I made, and how I had started this body of work thinking about a reimagined archive, as well as how we preserve and hold ancestral memories.
Karen Margolis: It’s an interesting question, because I felt a strong relationship between my installation, Continuum, and a number of other works in the show and when just perceiving the works, there were so many similarities in how they look or in the processes of making the works, but in terms of the emotional necessity of each artist, we all come from very different spaces, reminding me that there is always so much more information being transmitted under the surface. I like that about my work, that it can be appreciated at an exterior level and can be probed deeper into conceptual underpinnings.
Also of note, Equity Gallery’s forthcoming exhibition, Sans Toi is curated by Equity former executive director Melinda Wang and presents work by Sarah Kurz, Iris Lan, Kristina Libby, and Julia Whitney Barnes. This group exhibition brings, “new perspectives of memento mori and the imbuing of beauty into reminders of the inevitability of death.” The gallery will host a public opening reception for Sans Toi on Thursday, April 7, 6-8pm.
All photo courtesy of Christopher Stout
A group exhibition at Equity Gallery, 245 Broome Street (Ground Floor Gallery), New York, NY 10002; March 16 — April 2, 2022, Wednesday to Saturday, noon – 6pm
Artists: Ana Biolchini, Tom Capobianco, Gabriel Castro, Bel Falleiros, Linda King Ferguson, Peter Fulop, Will Hutnick, Sara Jimenez, Laura Lappi, Parker Manis, Karen Margolis, Anna Parisi, Diogo Pimentão, Brigitta Varadi ; Curators: Hayley Ferber, Anita Goes, and Luciana Solano
Christopher Stout (pronouns: he/they) is a queer abstract reductive artist, living and working in New York City, and is also a long-standing member of New York Artists Equity Association (NYAE), which opened Equity Gallery in 2015.