In partnership with Clocktower Productions, a new generation of New York-based artists utilized installation work as a platform for performance, and partnered regularly with alternative event spaces and collectives in Brooklyn and beyond. Featuring the work of Hisham Bharooccha, Ranjit Bhatnagar, Raul de Nieves, Christian Joy, Desi Santiago, and Ben Wolf, Knockdown began its exploration of this very intersection. Through its ambitious program and expansive architecture, this exhibition brought a dynamic selection of artists onto its grounds for a month of on-site project development, culminating in a celebration of the work and its fluid transformation from environment to stage.
Curated by Joshua Bienko and Leeza Meksin, Tightened, As If By Pliers included works by Julio Cortàzar, Kevin Andrew Curran, Luc Fuller, Angelina Gualdoni, EJ Hauser, David Humphrey, Mary Reid Kelley, Amy Lincoln, Chris Martin, Susan Metrican, Hooper Turner, Alan Ruiz, Harriet Salmon, Michael Velliquette and Sheilah Wilson.
In 1968, Argentine novelist Julio Cortàzar traveled to India to photograph an 18th century observatory built by Maharajah Jai Singh II, in Jaipur. He took nearly 300 photographs of the structure which later became the source for, and a contingent part of From the Observatory, an epic poem-narrative consistent with his genre-less writing style. Cortàzar’s photographs and subsequent writing considers the observatory in relation to the “art space.” For Cortàzar, the observatory in Jaipur was a place of deep consideration of the cosmos, but also of the dance eels do for an absent audience, of the eroticism of Jai Singh, of the depth of humor and the surface of philosophy.
For Cortàzar’s artistic output there were no categories: taking photos, writing poems, drinking mates, writing a nonlinear novel in 1963: these were all natural outgrowths of an intellectual curiosity. He was not being a “Photographer,” then a “Writer,” then a “Poet.” He was Socratically committed to questioning.
Through this insistence on questioning, the artists in Tightened, As If by Pliers practiced resistance to the mundane anchoring of the present using art as a window through which the past and the future is accessed from the vantage point of the present.
Tightened, As If by Pliers was presented by Ortega y Gasset Projects.