FiftyTwo Ft: Laurel Sparks

By |

Knockdown Center is pleased to present a new work titled Quad Relay by Laurel Sparks as a part of the FiftyTwo Ft. series of commissioned wall-based artworks in the East Corridor.

Sparks’ abstract compositions are determined by elaborate systems informed by Kabbalistic diagrams, string figures, and mathematical poetry which provide options for painterly scaffolding with an interdependence of modular parts. These magical calculations create esoteric systems of correspondences that allow the artist’s paintings to generate themselves, yet she also seeks out the places where these systems break down. Irregularities, digressions, and stains disrupt the stable elegance of interlocking shapes, producing striking tensions between order and chaos.

Quad Relay is the artist’s largest work to date, and its compositional logic is derived from the sestina, a complex form of mathematical poetry structured by six stanzas organized in numbered sequences. Sparks assigns points and directional lines specific colors, numbers, and elements according to the sestina’s structure, creating a self-generating algorithm that determines the painting’s geometric tableaux. An irregular grid underlies the composition, producing an almost kinetic, shimmering presence akin to dazzle camouflage, refusing fixed identity and yielding instead to perceptual flux.

About Laurel Sparks
Laurel Sparks is a Brooklyn-based painter whose work embodies geometric symbol systems and the transmitting potential of pattern and materiality. She holds an MFA from Bard College and a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University in Boston, MA. Her exhibitions include solo shows at Kate Werble, NYC and group shows at Cheim and Read NYC; LX, NYC; Franklin Street Works, Stamford, CT; Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, NYC; Barbara Walters Gallery at Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY; Berman Museum at Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA; Elizabeth Foundation Gallery, NYC; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA; and Art In General, NYC.

Sparks’ work has been reviewed in publications such as the New Yorker, New York Magazine, The Paris Review, Blouin Artinfo, The Brooklyn Rail, Two Coats of Paint, Modern Painters, New American Paintings, the Drawing Center’s the Bottom Line, Art21 Magazine, Vogue Mexico, Boston Globe, Art in America, Bloomberg, Timeout New York, Huffington Post, and Art and Auction. She has received numerous grants and fellowships including MacDowell Colony, Elizabeth Foundation Studio Intensive Program at Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, NY, Fire Island Artist Residency, NY, Residenza del Palmerino, Associazione Culturale Il Palmerino, IT, Berkshire Taconic Fellowship, SMFA Alumni Traveling Fellowship and an Elaine DeKooning Fellowship.

Dakota Gearhart: The Sextant of the Rose

By |

Dakota Gearhart: The Sextant of the Rose investigates beauty as economic capital through the ubiquitous figure of the rose, speculating on whether the rose may have a hidden evolutionary agenda of its own. This exhibition, the artist’s first solo presentation in New York, features a new series of video-sculptures that incorporate psychedelic videos as well as living and dying roses to create an immersive world that viewers can become submerged within.

Informed by the artist’s day job as a florist, The Sextant of the Rose conjures an otherworldly setting where bouquets and videos reside. A suite of sculptures contain collage-like video animations of rose imagery that spins, flickers, and accumulates, sometimes integrating sculptural elements or the artist’s body modified by digital elements and effects. In a central video, Gearhart communicates with the rare and costly Juliet rose, who reveals her strategy of using sensuality to co-opt human desire as a way to navigate her own species’ evolution. Over hundreds of years, humans have cultivated roses to have more desirable patterns, better scents, more saturated colors, and even a more graceful death. By asking the rose what it experiences from its revered cultural position, Gearhart seeks to further understand how roses are using human desire to evolve and procreate themselves, and to what extent we are entranced in to performing their desires.

About Dakota Gearhart
Dakota Gearhart is a multidisciplinary artist who examines the environment and how it is perceived through technology and mythology. Her work has been exhibited at The Bronx Museum of Art, Bronx, NY; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA; Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, Portland, OR; Equity Gallery, New York, NY; On The Ground Floor, Los Angeles, CA; Horse Hospital, London, UK; Griessmuehle, Berlin, GR; Lab’Attoir, Thessaloniki, Greece; and Taiyuan University, Taiyuan, China. She has been awarded the Puffin Foundation Grant, Artist Trust GAP Grant, BRIC Digital Media Fellowship, and a National Endowments for the Arts Fellowship through a partnership with Residency Unlimited. Residencies completed include the Queens Museum Studio Program, NY; NARS Foundation, NY; Studios at MASS MoCa, MA; Wassiac Project, NY; Residency Unlimited, NY; and The Bronx Museum AIM Program, NY. Currently, she is a video educator with Pioneer Works and Educational Video Center, both in Brooklyn, NY.

Organized by Alexis Wilkinson, Knockdown Center Director of Exhibitions and Live Art.

Catalina Ouyang: it has always been the perfect instrument

By |

Catalina Ouyang: it has always been the perfect instrument presents a multimedia exhibition of large-scale interactive sculpture, salvaged objects, sound, moving image, and architectural intervention, as a continuation of the artist’s ongoing project [Conclusion and Findings] (2017–). In [Conclusion and Findings], Ouyang pollutes the email inboxes of hundreds of strangers and friends with a 2016 legal document that weaponized institutional language to exonerate an act of violence. The recipients are then invited to appropriate, handle, and “translate” the contents of that document back to Ouyang.

The exhibition presents sculptures made over the last two years alongside a new two-channel video installation that comprises Ouyang’s reordering of the nearly 40,000 words generated by the contributions to [Conclusion and Findings]. This exhaustive task reflects the artist’s initial struggle to make sense of polyphonic data and to comprehend a manuscript designed to create silence. The works in the exhibition, however, ultimately forego that endeavor toward consolidation and instead grow out of a space where language fails. In resisting any overarching material, disciplinary, or tonal vocabulary, it has always been the perfect instrument trades linguistic and taxonomic control for a landscape of rhythm, texture, touch, and communion.

About Catalina Ouyang
Catalina Ouyang’s practice spans sculpture, text, installation, performance, video, and participatory projects, among other modalities, exploring the interstices of myth, desire, subjugation, and monstrosity. Ouyang has had solo exhibitions at Rubber Factory (New York, NY), Selena’s Mountain fka Selena Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), Make Room (Los Angeles, CA), and fort gondo compound for the arts (St. Louis, MO). Group exhibitions include Helena Anrather (New York, NY), fffriedrich (Frankfurt, Germany), like a little disaster (Polignano a Mare, Italy), Anonymous Gallery (Mexico City, Mexico), projects+gallery (St. Louis, Missouri), No Place (Columbus, Ohio), Field Projects (New York, NY), and Gallery 400 (Chicago, IL). Ouyang has attended residencies at Shandaken: Storm King (New Windsor, NY), the NARS Foundation (Brooklyn, NY), OBRAS (Evoramonte, Portugal), the Atlantic Center for the Arts (New Smyrna Beach, FL), and Palazzo Monti (Brescia, Italy), with a residency upcoming at the Vermont Studio Center. Ouyang holds an MFA from Yale University.

Funding for Catalina Ouyang: it has always been the perfect instrument made possible in part by the Puffin Foundation.

Organized by Alexis Wilkinson, Knockdown Center Director of Exhibitions and Live Art.

Christina Ko, Catalina Ouyang, and Larissa Pham in Conversation

By |

Join us Saturday November 16 for a program in conjunction with the exhibition Jia Sung: Chaos, Whims, Lust with Christina Ko, Catalina Ouyang, and Larissa Pham. Each artist will present a piece of writing or body of artwork that expands on themes within Chaos, Whims, Lust, followed by a conversation with Sung.

Catalina Ouyang will read a lyric essay that takes up Journey to the West as a framing conceit. Christina Ko will discuss her body of artworks as they relate to themes in the exhibition such as a hero’s journey and the role of the female figure, subversive space, and the title Chaos, Whims, Lust. Larissa Pham will read from Fantasian, her 2016 novella dealing with themes of identity formation, Asian-American womanhood, and duplicity.

About the Exhibition
Chaos, Whims, Lust is an exhibition by artist Jia Sung that examines the role of the female trickster figure, replacing canonized patriarchal motifs in folklore with narratives of sisterhood, matriarchy, and rebellion. Comprised of over fifty figurative ink and gouache drawings accompanied by handwritten verse and prose poetry, the exhibition takes the form of a spatialized book that reads from right to left around the gallery space.

About the Presenters
Christina Ko is a Korean American artist living and working in Queens, NY. She received her BFA from Cornell University in 2013 and has since then shown her work in Los Angeles, CA, Washington D.C., and in around NYC. Selected exhibitions include: “Downloading Place”, Wave Hill, Bronx, NY (2019); “Fever Lure”, Selenas Mountain Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2019); “Crossover: East and West”, Korean Cultural Center, Washington D.C. (2018), and “Nightcall”, Public Address Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2017). Her work has also been featured in Gallery Gurls, the Arcade Project Zine, Hiss Magazine, The Fader magazine, The Washington Post, and Ballpit Magazine.

Catalina Ouyang is a visual artist and child of the Chinese diaspora by way of St. Louis, New Jersey, and a cul-de-sac outside of Chicago. Her non-disciplinary practice spans sculpture, text, installation, performance, video, and participatory projects, among other modalities, exploring the interstices of myth, desire, subjugation, and monstrosity. Ouyang has had solo exhibitions at Rubber Factory (New York, NY), Selena Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), Make Room (Los Angeles, CA), Trestle Projects (Brooklyn, NY), the Millitzer Gallery (St. Louis, MO), and fort gondo compound for the arts (St. Louis, MO). Her work has been included in group exhibitions internationally, including at Helena Anrather (New York, NY), fffriedrich (Frankfurt, Germany), like a little disaster (Polignano a Mare, Italy), Anonymous Gallery (Mexico City, Mexico), projects+gallery (St. Louis, Missouri), No Place (Columbus, Ohio), and Gallery 400 (Chicago, IL). She holds an MFA in Sculpture from Yale University.

Larissa Pham is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn. She is the author of Fantasian (Badlands Unlimited 2016). Pham is the “Devil in the Details” columnist at the Paris Review Daily, and has published essays and criticism in POETRY, The Nation, Art in America, Guernica, Bookforum, Village Voice, and elsewhere. In 2017, Pham was an inaugural Yi Dae Up fellowship recipient from the Jack Jones Literary Arts Retreat. She has taught with the Asian American Writers Workshop and Kundiman.

Facility Magazine Launch

By |

Join Facility magazine in celebrating the release of their inaugural issue — in the bathroom. Facility, the magazine that views society through the lens of the bathroom, is taking over one of Knockdown Center’s all-gender, wheelchair-accessible restrooms for a night of readings, installations, a special Facility-themed cocktail, and more.

Readings by:
Chloë Bass
Elizabeth Gumport
A.S. Hamrah
Heather Johnson & Svetlana Kitto
René Kladzyk
Jane Marchant
Erin Sheehy

Installations by:
Keenan Bennett
Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin

Facility treats the bathroom as a small but interesting window through which to view the world. Issue 1 includes: an interview with plumbers, bath riots on the El Paso-Juárez border, the origins of sex-segregated bathrooms, urine drinking, a history of fluorescent lighting, plus reviews of pills, ductwork, glycerin, and mirrors — and much more.

Notes from the Sidelines

By |

Join us for an evening with performers and scholars who will engage and unpack some of the central concepts, approaches, and artworks contained in the exhibition Xandra Ibarra: Forever Sidepiece. Through lecture, performance, and song, Amber Jamilla Musser, Amelia Bande, and Keijaun Thomas will expand upon the critical conversations that Ibarra’s dynamic work across mediums brings forward.

Scholar Amber Jamilla Musser will walk the audience through the video Untitled Fucking (2013), a collaborative work made by Xandra Ibarra and artist Amber Hawk Swanson, weaving together critical analysis and personal anecdotes of lessons learned from Ibarra’s body of work. Writer and performer Amelia Bande will present a combination of song and text based on personal anecdotes that exercise a sidepiece methodology while drawing out strategies of humor as mode of critique. The evening will conclude with performer Keijaun Thomas, who will present a work in progress that resonates with Ibarra’s engagement with embodiment, excess, and material slippages.

About the Exhibition
Xandra Ibarra: Forever Sidepiece is the first NYC solo exhibition of Oakland-based artist and performer Xandra Ibarra, who also works under the alias La Chica Boom. The exhibition is rooted in Ibarra’s performance practice, extending to sculpture, video, and photographs made between 2012 and 2019, some of which will be on view for the first time. Charged objects like Tapatío bottles, nipple tassels, and cockroaches reappear throughout her work to confront notions of racialized desire and representations of Latinidad, femininity, and queerness.

About the Presenters
Amelia Bande is a Brooklyn-based artist, writer and performer from Chile. Her work has been shown at Artists Space, The Poetry Project, Storm King Arts Center, Tang Museum, MoMA Library, MIX NYC, Participant, Inc and more. She has been an artist in residence The Shandaken Project, Yaddo and FIAR. Her chapbook The Clothes We Wear was published by Belladonna in 2017. Amelia teaches Spanish at CUNY and NYU.

Amber Jamilla Musser is Associate Professor of American Studies at George Washington University and the author of Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism (NYU, 2014) and Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance, which was published by NYU Press in November.

Keijaun Thomas creates live performances and multimedia installations that oscillate between movement and materials that function as tools, objects and structures, as well as a visual language that can be read, observed, and repeated within spatial, temporal, and sensorial environments. Her work investigates the histories, symbols, and images that construct notions of Black identity within black personhood. Thomas examines, deconstructs, and reconstructs notions of visibility, hyper-visibility, passing, trespassing, eroticized, and marginalized representations of the black body in relation to disposable labor, domestic service, and notions of thingness amongst materials — her work investigates the histories, symbols, and images that construct notions of Black identity within Black personhood. Thomas earned their Masters degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Thomas has presented work nationally and internationally in Los Angeles and Palo, Alto, CA; Portland, OR; Portland, ME; Chicago, IL; Saugatuck, MI; Steuben, WI; Boston and Cambridge, MA; New York, NY; Miami, FL; and Taipei, Taiwan; Paris, France; Mexico City, Mexico; Santiago, Chile; Istanbul, Turkey; Beirut, Lebanon; Kuopio, Finland, Saskatchewan and Vancouver, Canada; and the United Kingdom.

Jia Sung: Chaos, Whims, Lust

By |

Exhibition Events
Saturday, November 16, 6pm
Christina Ko, Catalina Ouyang, and Larissa Pham in Conversation

Knockdown Center is pleased to present Jia Sung: Chaos, Whims, Lust, an exhibition that examines the role of the female trickster figure. Comprised of over fifty figurative ink and gouache drawings accompanied by handwritten verse and prose poetry, the exhibition takes the form of a spatialized book that reads from right to left around the gallery space.

Mythologies of the hero’s journey are historically peppered with violence, and fables of man’s ascension into sainthood tend to be permeated with the shunning, maiming, and killing of threatening female figures. For Chaos, Whims, Lust, Sung replaces canonized patriarchal motifs present in the allegorical classic Journey to the West with narratives of sisterhood, matriarchy, and rebellion, weaving autobiographical elements throughout the epic. Sung toys with the ubiquitous character of the Trickster, a celebrated liminal figure who takes on many faces and traits – idiocy and wisdom, detachment and devotion, wit and somberness – yet rarely rendered female. Instead, clever women in mythology are admonished. Often identified as witches, irreverent women are not seen as playful, but deadly and punished for their games. In this body of work, Sung calls into question the absence of the female trickster figure and emboldens representations of women in mythology by recasting male monks, disciples, and the trickster character of the Monkey King, into monstrous, hybridized femme creatures.

Jia Sung is an artist and educator, born in Minnesota, bred in Singapore, now based in Brooklyn, and received a BFA from RISD in 2015. She was a 2018-2019 Smack Mellon Studio Artist and Van Lier Fellow, and is currently an art director at Guernica and Teaching Artist in Residence at the Hudson River Museum. Her paintings and artist books have been exhibited across North America, including the RISD Museum, Wave Hill, EFA Project Space, Lincoln Center, Yale University, and MOMA PS1, and in publications including Hyperallergic, Jacobin Magazine, Asian American Writers Workshop, and The Guardian. She has taught workshops at organizations like the AC Institute, Abrons Arts Center, Children’s Museum of the Arts, and Museum of Chinese in America.

James Allister Sprang: Fragment Scapes

By |

Knockdown Center is pleased to present James Allister Sprang: Fragment Scapes, the artist’s first solo exhibition in New York. The exhibition comprises two corresponding bodies of work: a selection of floor-based photo-sculptures made from both physical and photographed concrete infused with pigment, and a new series of cyanotypes that capture the imprints of intimate notes and memorabilia. Informed by Sprang’s ongoing excavation of the intersections of recorded sound, photographic processes, and language, these bodies of work simultaneously serve as memorials and tributaries, and call into question limiting modes by which blackness is seen, perceived, and surveilled.

Employing processes of transmission and translation, strategies of abstraction, and materials that allude to urban space, Sprang’s Concrete Color Arrangements point to the ways in which Black bodies are surveilled and rendered flat. To create this body of photo-sculptures, the artist infuses cement with superabundant amounts of pigment that cause large slabs of concrete to become structurally unsound. Once cured, Sprang stands on the brittle slabs and they crack under his feet, creating fragments from which he builds stacked mounds that resemble modest, temporary, monuments or cairns. The artist then photographs the concrete arrangements from above using surveillance optics that evacuate the mounds of vertical dimension, rendering them flat. The photographs are presented horizontally on low concrete slabs in various stages of physical decay that recall the ones documented, evoking sites of memorial.

The artist will also present a new body of cyanotypes which extend the material analogy that Concrete Color Arrangements elicit. Implementing a photographic method that is a technical inverse to the surveillance lens, the cameraless cyanotype process inherently renders objects flat. Here, the lens, camera, and enlarger are absent. Instead, notes and citations from Sprang’s musings on ancestry and generational trauma are placed onto a photosensitive surface and exposed to direct sunlight. The cyanotype documents the degrees of transparency and opacity of these intimate items against a brilliant blue background. This body of work, in part a dedication to the poetry of blue, propose opacity as a strategy to eschew the limitations of capture, and signal the abundance contained within the things that go unseen.

 James Allister Sprang is a first-generation Caribbean-American and creates work that exists in gallery spaces, theater spaces and the space generally found between the ears. Working across mediums—photography, sound, performance, installation—Sprang’s work is best understood as an investigation of poetics, performance, gesture and their documentation. This work is informed by the black radical tradition. 

Sprang has completed residencies both domestically and internationally. He has read/shown/performed at institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Apollo Theater, Dixon Place, Abrons Arts Center, the Brooklyn Museum, The Public Theater, David Nolan Gallery, AUTOMAT Gallery, Vox Populi, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Emerson-Dorsch Gallery, FringeArts, MONOM, Knockdown Center and The Kitchen.

FiftyTwo Ft: Ander Mikalson

By |

Knockdown Center is pleased to present a new work, titled Scores for a Corridor, by Ander Mikalson as a part of the FiftyTwo Ft. series of commissioned wall-based artworks in the East Corridor.

Mikalson’s work often uses imaginative scores to incite performance, collaboration, and exploration as a way to discover new forms of knowledge. This will be the artist’s largest- scale visual work to date. For FiftyTwo Ft., Mikalson engages deeply and directly with Knockdown Center’s East Corridor space in a large-text based collection of scores that imagine the space in a myriad ways: alternately as a hallway, runway, tunnel, bridge, wormhole, salad bar, road, tightrope, aisle, plank, horizon, and more. Arranged in bands, the text pulls the viewer along the length of the hallway and around the corner as they read, creating a formal relationship between the architecture of the space and the wall drawing, propelled by a movement-driven encounter. The actions described in the text drawings may either be left as potential or performed with invited guests and audience members at some point while the work is on view. Some scores, like “A WOMAN RUSHES DOWN A CORRIDOR,” describe activities that routinely take place in the space, creating the possibility for the piece to be unintentionally performed by visitors to the space or activated by the internal movements of Knockdown Center staff. While the text is legible as language when viewed close up, from a distance it shifts into an abstracted graphic pattern, placing Scores for a Corridor in the nexus of a formal gesture, conceptual artwork, poem, and score-based performance.

About the Artist
Ander Mikalson is a Brooklyn-based artist playing across performance, sound, installation and drawing. Select solo exhibitions and performances include Art in General (New York, NY), The Kitchen (New York, NY), The High Line (New York, NY), Storm King Art Center (New Windsor, NY), The Art, Design & Architecture Museum (Santa Barbara, CA), Kate Werble Gallery (New York, NY), Queens Museum (Queens, NY), Temple Contemporary (Philadelphia, PA), Institute of Contemporary Art (Portland, ME) and Tensta Konsthall (Stockholm, Sweden). Her projects have been supported by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant (2016), the Art Matters Foundation Grant (2013), College Art Association Professional-Development Fellowship in the Visual Arts (2012) and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Graduate Fellowship (2011). She has been an artist-in-residence at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2012), Queens Museum (2015-18), Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (2017), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Process Space (2016) and Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (2018). She holds an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and a BA from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. She is currently a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow in Washington, DC and an Artist-in-Residence at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Arts Center in New York.

Open Call: Exhibitions + Main Spaces

By |

We are currently seeking proposals for Group Exhibitions in our gallery space, Solo Projects + Installations in our gallery space, and short-term Main Spaces Projects!

Review the guidelines for open calls for gallery exhibitions and projects in our main spaces, and apply by October 21, 2019! We are also accepting proposals on a rolling basis for Open Capacity – our space support program for artists and organizers.

Take a look at our proposal page for full details and guidelines.

Submit your proposal here.

Skip to content