Michael Assiff

The Lorax Poems @ Good Work Gallery, Oct 3

1 October 2015

Zach Smith is curating a new group exhibition titled The Lorax Poems at Brooklyn’s Good Work Gallery, opening October 3.

The show negotiates the “space between science and poetry”, highlighting artists whose works are inspired by a steady diet of both populist and academic contemporary media to create what they hope is “a paean to the natural world”.

Taking its name from Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, a forest entity known for saying what nobody much wants to hear and eventually banishing himself just as his pessimistic prophecies come to fruition, the group exhibition features the works of eight artists, including Ella GörnerMichael AssiffCarson Fisk-Vittori and Cecilia Salama.

See the gallery website for details. **

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AFA 2 @ Pane e Pomodoro reviewed

21 August 2015

AFA 2, running from July 29 to August 12, is a lightweight exhibition. It could fly away with the first summer breeze. It leans on the public beach of Bari in Italy waiting for the sun to set, folded and unfolded in a ritual which determines its existence. Thirteen international artists invited by 63rd-77th STEPS design a series of black and white print towels for the historical coastline of Pane e Pomodoro, its intense life discreetly interrupted by this spectral summer collection lying on the sand. The towels are unfolded from afternoon till evening among the haphazard lines of bathers, arranged in random order daily, in an event that lies somewhere between guerilla marketing and the human right to tan.  

Pane e Pomodoro is a popular beach: just like the dish from which it took its name. Bread, oil, salt, water, tomato. In the heart of a landscape of contaminated beauty, where the sand isn’t natural: the shore being artificially designed following an asbestos removal project nearby. It assimilates and defines their waves. And it stays there, soft and still until the flow of people slows at sunset.

Uffe Isolotto, 'Phallus-Vagina Dentata (Sarlacc, Graboid, ???, Shai-Hulud)' (2015) @ AFA 2. Install view. Courtesy 63rd-77th STEPS.
Uffe Isolotto, ‘Phallus-Vagina Dentata (Sarlacc, Graboid, ???, Shai-Hulud)’ (2015) @ AFA 2. Install view. Courtesy 63rd-77th STEPS.
 Thirteen black and white print towels, faded as if by the sun, impress on the sand. They’re uninhabited islands on densely populated portions of coast, between the midi-sounds of the piano bar, the haze of some merry embers, the kids playing football and the shouts of their parents. The unsaturated images realized by the artists and printed on terry cloth are situated in the very multicoloured peak of people, marking some short pauses. They are sudden grey zones from which everything seems to be more distant: the hunger, the heat, the excitement, the anger, the Mediterranean sea. They soften like from a higher sense of suspension, innocence, restlessness, desolation.

This is the feeling of the three bathers portrayed in Fabio Santacroce‘s ‘Mare Nostrum’, that can be found in a lot of the creatures evoked on the towels: from the monkeys sketched in the white by Ditte Gantriis, to the hypersexualized female ants by Lucia Leuci. There are the tentacular eruptions of the ‘Phallus-vagina Dentata’ by Uffe Isolotto and the pale masks by Liz Craft, the threatening black claw between the small birds cages by Rosa Ciano, and then the four-handed zombies of the ‘Gmorkrunoff’ by Rolf Nowotny.

Ilya Smirnov, 'Unum adversus Omnia' (2015) @ AFA 2. Install view. Courtesy 63rd-77th STEPS.
Ilya Smirnov, ‘Unum adversus Omnia’ (2015) @ AFA 2. Install view. Courtesy 63rd-77th STEPS.

All these aberrations of the body are probably generated by the contradictions of ‘meridian thought’, as sociologist Franco Cassano calls it, faced with global economy. The same suggestion comes in the sign of Spencer Longo’s ‘Work Ethic’, Michelangelo’s ‘Dying Slave’ stuck on a doner kebab spit by Pentti Monkkonen and the cluster of ‘submit’ icons carpeting Maja Cule’s ‘Submit to AFA’, which spills out from the Internet to the beach in Bari. For an instant they may seem like a collection of bottle caps and cigarette butts: that’s just the effect of visual pollution. It’s a bit like the darkened emoticons sadly reclining on the pain rating scale of Bradford Kessler’s ‘Even Diablos Get The Blues’, or the plots and symbols of the Transpacific Partnership of the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization intertwining in the ‘Factory Trawler’ by Michael Assiff.

Guiding us through this variable and irregular itinerary, we bump into Ilya Smirnov‘s lost children with a torch, which rather seems like the lantern of Diogenes the Cynic: ‘contra omnia adversa’ (against all). But there is no light and no words showing us the way. And maybe we can’t do anything else but get lost in this reality. **

Exhibition photos, top right.

AFA 2 group exhibition, organised by 63rd-77th STEPS, was on at Bari’s Pane e Pomodoro Beach, running July 29 to August 12, 2015.

Header image: Rosa Ciano, ‘Ready for the fog’ (2015). Install view. Courtesy 63rd-77th STEPS.

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F.E.D.S. @ American Medium, May 15 – Jun 6

14 May 2015

To celebrate the 1st anniversary of its Brooklyn location, American Medium is bringing in a group exhibition, the latest drawings from Micki Pellerano, as well as a project by Morgan Ritter, running from May 15 to June 6.

The Michael Assiff and Bradford Kessler-curated show, titled Finally Every Dimension of the Soil, will feature a dozen artists, including Assiff and Kessler themselves, as well as Sterling Wells, Jacques Louis Vidal, Annie Pearlman, and Clayton Schiff.

Running simultaneously are a series of new graphite drawings detailing “the human form in states of corruption, dissolution, and regeneration” by Cuban-American artist Micki Pellerano titled Celestial Love as well as a window project by Morgan Ritter titled ‘To Window’ and part of two simultaneous bi-coastal window exhibitions, showing at American Medium in Brooklyn and at Sunlan Lighting in Portland.

See the American Medium press release for details. **


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