Trenton Doyle Hancock’s exhibition “Pandemic Pentameter” is at James Cohan Gallery in New York through November 27. Hancock grew up in East Texas, in a deeply Christian family. “I’ve developed a perspective over the way that I grew up, the whole Christian background thing,” he told Artpulse in 2012. “I think about what are the good things that I could take from that rigor or that lifestyle and incorporate it into my studio practice. I think there’s still a little bit of residue left over. I don’t want to say guilt, but maybe the fear that’s a deep Southern Baptist, black Baptist thing. It’s definitely not guilt-based, it’s more fear-based. I think there’s something interesting to be said about making a painting that you can fear for yourself for having made it.”
“Intimisms,” a new group exhibition at James Cohan Gallery, looks at the legacy of the Intimists, a group of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century artists—Jean-Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard among them—remembered for the rich closeness and empathy of their portraiture. The French writer and critic Camille Mauclair defined intimism as “psychologic poetry in painting … a revelation of the soul through the things painted, the magnetic suggestion of what lies behind them through the description of the outer appearance, the intimate meaning of the spectacles of life … the daily tragedy and mystery of ordinary existence, and the latent poetry in things.” The artists in this exhibition aim to further that tradition.
Mernet Larsen’s exhibition “Things People Do” is at James Cohan Gallery through February 21. Larsen, seventy-five, works in what she has called “old-fashioned narrative paintings … statements of longing.” “What I use are these perspectival ploys—diverse perspective, parallel perspective,” she told The Huffington Post last year. “You’re always sort of moving around inside the painting; you can never quite figure out where you’re standing, so you kind of absorb it. Matisse does that too for me too. And a lot of Japanese art, from the twelfth century particularly. They bring you inside and outside the space, you have no particular position. You can’t quite get your bearings. And yet, I want you to have a sense of orient, a sense of mass, a sense of depth.”
In 1967, while he was a poet-in-residence at the California Institute of Technology, Richard Brautigan wrote “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace,” a gamboling techno-utopian vision that reads, nearly fifty years later, as farcically, hauntingly naive:
I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
like pure water
touching clear sky.
And that’s just the first stanza. Brautigan goes on to imagine “a cybernetic forest / filled with pines and electronics”; “it has to be!” he writes of “a cybernetic ecology.” One imagines he was not too gung ho on Blade Runner. Read More
Right now, one thousand new trees are growing about twenty minutes outside Oslo. In the city’s new library, a window from a quiet room on the fifth floor faces out onto the nascent forest, which you can see across the harbor. These—those trees, this room—are the basic components of the Scottish artist Katie Paterson’s Future Library, a century-long project that contemplates the full scale of the publishing process, with its many tangibles and intangibles:
It will be 100 years before the trees are cut down to provide the paper for an anthology of books—a Future Library for the city of Oslo—read for the first time in 2114 … Every year from 2014 to 2114, a writer will be commissioned to contribute a new text to a growing collection of unpublished, unread manuscripts held in trust in a specially designed room in the new Deichmanske Public Library in Bjørvika until their publication in 2114.
That room, intended to be “a space of contemplation,” is lined with wood from the felled forest; once the initial clear-cutting was complete, Paterson and a group of loggers planted the new saplings themselves, as photographed above.
An eight-person trust will guide the project into the future, with a small editorial panel—including the Booker Prize’s Ion Trewin—selecting the writers, the first of whom will be announced in September. Writers have no obligation to say what they’ll write or how long their manuscripts will be; they can produce whatever they want. A particularly ambitious or deranged author could take it upon himself to write an epic, laying waste to a significant percentage of the forest in so doing.
Paterson has also designed a limited run of certificates made from the trees that were cut down to make the new library. The double-sided print features a graphic of a tree trunk and functions as a deed or a share, entitling its owner to receive the anthology of Future Library books in 2114. New York’s James Cohan Gallery is showing the certificate in “The Fifth Season,” a group exhibition whose opening reception is tonight at 6 P.M.
“It grows in the mind,” William Pym, a curator at the gallery, said of the project. “There’s really not much to see.” Given its duration, Future Library is destined to be “forgotten and then remembered again,” he added, noting that attention paid to the project will ebb and flow over the years as new writers are chosen and as printing technologies advance.
The project foregrounds the most easily or willfully forgotten part of bookmaking: the trees. A bound book sits at a far remove from the natural world it came from—Future Library reminds us of the geographical realities of publishing, of the time and resources necessary to make paper. And as, presumably, digital media will continue to proliferate over the next century, Paterson’s art is resolutely, provocatively analog: every part of its process is tethered to the physical world. A visitor in Oslo can stand in the library and point to the source of the paper.