Structures are Unconscious
May 31 – October 8 2017
In his work, Ariel Schlesinger (Jerusalem, Israel, 1980) makes use of readymade elements that carry with them intrinsic economic, social, and historic values and situates, assembles, or alters them in ways that strain these pre-established concepts. His pieces, rich in poetic and anarchic content, grant new uses and behaviors to functional objects disengaging them from their initial purposes. Through the integration of mechanical engineering in his practice, Schlesinger creates clandestine devices that behave as performatic objects which carry out imposed actions.
The installation that is presented in the main room of this museum stages a choreography, which repeats cyclically within the space, of short sublime fires created by the combustion of soap bubbles stemming from machines engineered by the artist. This piece gives way to other aspects in the exhibition where fire, one of the main elements of the show, is intertwined with fragility, thus making us think about the possibility of sudden disaster, a potential moment where the thin balance that maintains each element in place could disappear and initiate catastrophe.
The double or the concept of the doppelgänger—which in German folklore and literary tradition refers to a paranormal phenomenon that each person has a body-double in life, a sort of specter that when encountered face to face, is an omen of bad luck—and repetition are manifest throughout the exhibition in individual pieces as well as in gestures in its museography. There are, for example, two stretchers, each dressed by a couple of burnt canvases that are braided through the orifices of their incineration, a photographic/sculptural series that shows the image of a broken window pane framed under the same broken glass depicted in the photograph, and a subtle mirroring in the installation of two separate rooms in the museum, creating a déjà vu effect.
Though the title of the exhibition, Structures are Unconscious, could be seen as a statement about the invisible hand that moves economic, social, and power structures, it also references the total inability of objects to control the uses for which they are employed, their vulnerability, and complete ignorance: like would be the case of a car that has been used as a device for a terrorist bombing, an edifice that collapses after an earthquake, the handrail of a staircase that has been tarnished by use, or a machine altered to carry out a new action.
Ariel Schlesinger, Untitled (Glasses), 2017, C-print and bronze frame.