STANDARD (OSLO) is pleased to announce its first exhibition with New York-based artist Alex Hubbard, presenting a new video work along with four new paintings. Entitled “Spaced Yourself”, the exhibition is partly taking Walter Benjamin’s discussion of architecture in Franz Kafka’s writing as a point of departure. Hubbard takes an interest in how the experience of architecture allows for a refusal of closure between what we know and what we imagine or feel – the modern and the ancient.
I am standing on the threshold about to enter a room. It is a complicated business. In the first place I must shove against an atmosphere pressing with a force of fourteen pounds on every square inch of my body. I must make sure of landing on a plank traveling at twenty miles a second around the sun – a fraction of a second too early or too late, the plank would be miles away.
– Sir Arthur Eddington: The Nature of the Physical World, 1928
At the centre of the exhibition is the video work, Screens for Recalling the Blackout, recorded earlier this year in a sizeable Brooklyn studio. Hubbard has created a changing space followed by the camera, but purposefully has the camera being a step behind. The action is just missed; walls shift, bricks fall, temporary walls are erected, and Plexiglas panels move in front of the camera. The circular movement of the camera dolly continually updates, obscures and eventually looses the room. Benjamin employs the term “vertigo machine” in his discussion of Kafka’s architecture. Equally aiming at disorientation, Hubbard’s video establishes a strange relationship between what is being seen and what is being made. Causality becomes unclear: it sometimes appears as if the camera is determining the action. Memory becomes equally unclear: there is just enough repeat of the space to start to know where you are, but as the camera is slow the space is changed and the old tableaux forgotten by the time you return there. It’s closest to how new buildings replace old ones in the city. You know something else used to be there, but unless you knew it personally you can’t remember what it was.
Comparable to the cut-up of his video works, the dynamics of Hubbard’s paintings seem to rely on a juxtaposition of fragments forming a non-modular repetition. Neither negative nor affirmative, the untitled paintings here on display apply the same method of production. Rather than starting from zero, Hubbard establishes a matrix that then allows for addition or reduction. At the foundation of all works is a silk screen print rendering the crumpled surface of a sheet of paper. The spatial illusion of this transfer is, however, immediately interrupted by occasional drips and brushstrokes of thick, solid colour. This layering of opposites may be reminiscent of the table tops from so many of his earlier video works, but is more specifically conditioned by an interest in the opposition between fictive depth (‘optical’) and factual depth (‘thickness’) in painting and how this will allow for a collapse of the relationship between fore- and background. It also exposes a greater concern with Hubbard’s production: the aim at constructing an index or the appearance of empirical research, while also clearly exposing his aim at tension through the construction of a structure of oppositions. The difference in repetition: the painstaking multiplication of the silk screen prints – separated by various hues of blue and light grey – that neither results in any progression nor exact duplication. The appearance of spontaneity: the insistence on instance while willingly bringing any notions of gesture, force and movement to a dead halt.
Alex Hubbard received his education from Pacific Northwest College of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. Recent exhibitions include a solo presentation at Art Basel Miami Beach, under the auspices of STANDARD (OSLO), Contemporary Art Museum St Louis (together with Oscar Tuazon); Greene Naftali Gallery, New York; Johann König, Berlin; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Castillo / Corrales, Paris; Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria, New York. Throughout the course of the exhibition his works can also be seen in a solo exhibition at Gallery C / Team Gallery in New York as well as the group exhibition “Nothingness and Being” at Jumex Collection in Mexico City.