Em Rooney, Love Smells like Death (3), 2021, ceramic, steel, aluminum foil, paint, epoxy resin, flowers 16 x 48 x 13 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Derosia, New York.

Conflict Assembly

October 14, 2022 December 18, 2022

Opening Friday, October 14, 2022, 5–7pm

SEPTEMBER is pleased to announce CONFLICT ASSEMBLY, the gallery’s inaugural group show at its new location in Kinderhook, New York. Organized by Olga Dekalo and Kristen Dodge the exhibition is a survey of eight contemporary practices based in the Hudson Valley and Western Massachusetts. A.K. Burns, Liz Magic Laser, Sara Magenheimer, Sahra Motalebi, Em Rooney, Carrie Schneider, Kianja Strobert and Sam Vernon present several through lines including a reclamation of language, rhetorical power, and material friction.

A.K. Burns’ recent body of hand-ladled glass works are compositions of material distress. The reliefs are created by combining molten glass with objects such as leather gloves, old jeans, rope, pine cones, and paper bags that combust in the melting process, leaving an imprint in the surface. The immense pressure involved in the casting method produces fissures and fractures within the glass, creating a mirror that is actively working against itself and the viewer. The title Burn Out sums up the volatility of the material interaction as it also alludes to a state of exhaustion that results from an onslaught of psychological and physical demand.

Exhibited in the U.S. for the first time, Liz Magic Laser’s video installation Handle/Poignée (2018), offers a political cosmology for analyzing and rehabilitating relations between liberals and conservatives. The work is a choreographic examination of four personality archetypes: the disciplinary parent, the nurturing parent, the rebellious child, and the obedient child. The personalities are physically and audibly manifested by an ensemble of performers who are seen moving within and outside the bounds of a color-coded Venn diagram stage. The personas are further illustrated by written prompts that appear on-screen as they also serve as a guide to self-assessment by the viewer—to identify with their political-personality type. By illuminating the often invisible directives of political rhetoric, Laser channels those hidden techniques into a performative and critical platform.

Building on an extensive body of work engaged with words and images—typically as they perform on the screen and the page— Sara Magenheimer’s new series of paintings exemplify the artist’s collagist and layered interest in the plasticity of signs. Made with materials that include muslin, thread and organza, the compositions sensationally and authoritatively emphasize the artist’s hand manipulated letterforms. By deploying her own shorthand and koan-like phrasing, Magenheimer invites us to consider how we create and participate in a spectacle.

Sahra Motalebi’s scenographic installations reflect the artist’s long standing interest in the history of performance as it relates to the built environment. The voice-sculptures Diagram(s) for an Empty Stage 04 and 05 are ”stages’’ that are combined as a single work. Presented at differing scales, the elements of the maquette and the architectural screen convey a relationship between two dislocated vocal performances that can be heard by way of QR code within participants’ own mobile devices. Reconfiguring the experience of staging—the analog reconfiguration of the stage and the platform itself—the work examines the nature of performance in the era of the Self, digital networks, and the dematerialization of the set.

Building on a practice concerned with materiality, touch, and the ethics of care, Em Rooney presents never before exhibited stand-alone ceramic sculptures constructed out of steel, aluminum, paint, flowers and cow teeth. Albeit botanic and bovine in their subject matter, the works titled Love Smells like Death (2021) are an extension of the artist’s sculptural methods of armoring ensnared subjects. The series’ adaptation of organic material is largely an influence of Rooney’s move and years spent in the woods of Western Massachusetts and is an explication of how care and touch can morph into material.

Made with a hand-built Frankencamera, Carrie Schneider’s large photographic works deploy the artist’s evolving in-camera technique of direct, multiple exposure of color photo paper. Affixed directly on the wall, the multi-panel scroll Failed to Note is an amalgamation of personal, art historical and film references that pervade this new series. Pushed beyond visual cognizance, the motifs in the work When the Body Says Yes can be seen through a lens of the ravenous and red-eye conditions of the artist’s production, occurring in the dark, early hours. Collectively, the works are mediations between matter, bodies, and technology; taking the medium into a lively dialogue within the affective means of image making.

Kianja Strobert’s new multi-media work is situated within her practice of drawing from popular archival imagery to revisit and reframe the permeating effects of modernism on contemporary culture. In one of two images, a woman—famous and equally anonymous—is captured screaming in a field of color. The second, mirroring piece replaces the image with a flower. The swift change in emotional register locates the audience in a moment between two extremes, reproducing the fractured experience of media as consumed by today’s audiences. Complicated by the repetition of assembled and collaged elements, the tenor of the work explores a particular madness of the visible and irreconcilable modes of representation.

Sam Vernon works with installation and performance to honor the past while revising historical memory. Her new mixed media piece titled To a friend, integrates the artist’s Xeroxed drawings, photographs, paintings and sculptural components as well as discernible imagery and text from San Francisco-based first journal of Black studies and research, THE BLACK SCHOLAR. Reflecting the publication’s openness to different forms and techniques of academics, activists and artists, the work is a grid of what the artist calls a “visual friction” that engages the viewer through its directive to know and comprehend the larger emancipatory project of Black scholarship.

With special thanks to Derosia and Lauren Marinaro Gallery