Jordan Mendoza Review

"Jack Chiles hasn't seen The New Museum’s triennial, The Ungovernables. He says he might go Thursday when it’s free. Clearly, the young curator who manages a two-story Bowery gallery space to his own name doesn’t have the leisure time to cross the street. (Jack Chiles Gallery is located almost immediately across from the New Museum.)

When he’s not busy not attending big museum shows or running his own gallery, Jack Chiles is art consulting, gallery assisting, designing a line of marble furniture, and hosting party-performances. In fact, one of the two floors of Jack Chiles Gallery has been emptied completely to save space for occasional performance art exhibitions and concerts. “I want the space to maintain a certain amount of traffic,” he explained, looking beyond me into the vacant space. “Well, sometimes you don’t get many visitors.”

This hardly surprises. You might just walk past Jack Chiles without noticing it. (I did twice while looking for it.) Unlike most SoHo-Bowery area galleries reclaimed from old ground-level store fronts, Jack Chiles Gallery occupies a second-and-third-story former-restaurant-supply store/ townhouse. Jack Chiles has no large window display on which to decal his own name in helvetica, nor does he use the building’s two ample lightboxes to advertise the space. Chiles has somewhat cleverly dedicated these signs to display more art in a program called the 208 Bowery Sign Residency, which previously has hosted Das Institut’s and United Brothers’s Chinatown-styled haiku “B Personal/ Sun in the Sky Blocked/ Radiants Cost”. Despite being a young gallerist, Chiles has no qualms about risking viewership at the expense of innovation and humor.

Chiles’s recent curatorial decisions center on contemporary digital media, although he admits he’s “absolute rubbish” at technology, relying on interns to do the digital handiwork. “New Platform”, which features a grand total of nine works by Petros Moris and Nathan Prouty, somewhat appropriately appears on the final story of the gallery, elevated high above street level and the neighboring plethora of Bowery 2.0 art spaces.

London/ Athens-based Petros Moris presents the projection Artifacts2, an HD video of online-found 3d model “artifacts” that practically and symbolically render records of existing objects such as vases, potted plants, mirrors, and art deco sculptures. Philadelphia-based Nathan Prouty displays Chia pet-like sculptures that derive their inspiration from his insatiable need to look at things online. His works resemble toys from the future, or organic rocks decorated by a toddler with a highly articulate grasp of play-dough. Both artists seem to be grappling with what it means to a collector of immaterial objects while Chiles seems to be grappling with what it means to be a curator of immaterial artists; Chiles admits to never having met either artists-on-display.

He explains that while Prouty appears to lie almost entirely opposite the material spectrum from Moris, the two share similar virtual interests as well as the ire and ill-repute that accompanies their respective mediums. “They are both quite awkward. Ceramics has this tendency to be really earthy – ugly. Digital art is its own thing.”

Chiles cannot deny that despite their marginalized status, the mediums appear more and more relevant. He admits that ceramics might be getting some unexpected consideration due to the recent death of Ken Price, whose works clearly inspire Moris. Yet what’s more, the marginalized works of these two artists appears to comment, albeit subtly, on the Occupy politics that more obviously motivate the anarchy-steeped works across the street at The Ungovernables. While all considering the same theme – “un-governability” – the label-heavy works at the New Museum notably don’t directly interact with one another. There is no human microphone besides that supplied by the museum-machine – no connection unmediated by the curator. While Prouty speaks of his constant need for streaming and collecting with future-form earthenware creatures, Moris speaks directly to Prouty’s work by creating a whole new series of public domain vector prints called COMMONS that respond to the sci-fi sculptures’ formal properties. This artistic “comment” or “reply” speaks to the possibilities that migh tbe had between two artists who have likely never met nor spoken, who have never visited Jack Chiles Gallery, and yet somehow have magically composed a cohesive show together in a city in which neither live. Much like the art world, Occupy Wall Street clearly has its basis in New York, though its viability rests crucially on its mobility and adaptability.

Moris carefully attributes in large font the Google 3D Warehouse usernames of the Digital Commons artists from whom he borrows, seemingly interested not merely in striking the intermediate ground between “theft” and “appropriation” but establishing a new intermedium amongst the two bifurcations. In a “data economy” where pirates and protestors pit themselves against governmental biopower in hope of a better future, Moris builds and projects his own COMMONS – a vibrant utopia of the now.

The new platform – an intermedium, a ghost – has no material form and cannot be transfixed. Prouty’s earthenwares lie dispersed on a immense pedestal like aliens in outer-space. Moris’ simulations levitate faux-dimensionally on a flat wall. On April 7th the show will pack up and sent back like an email. What does it mean to be a collector of nonexistent artifacts? What does it mean if these artifacts can replicate themselves, be manipulated ad infinitum, and bounce back again as a whole?

“New Platform” runs from March 8th through April 7th at Jack Chiles Gallery, 208 Bowery, New York, NY 10012."

©Jordan Mendoza via MendozaBlog