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Formal Complaint

Formal Complaint

FREE April 15, 2017 — June 4, 2017

Getting Here ktdcshuttle

Gallery Hours:
Thu-Fri 2-6PM
Sat-Sun 2-7PM


Aria Dean, Female Background, Christopher Hanrahan, Mario Navarro, Megan Pahmier

Curated by: Dana Kopel and Rachael Rakes

Craft, scrap, and architectural minimalism coincide in Formal Complaint. Featuring work by Aria Dean, Female Background, Christopher Hanrahan, Mario Navarro, and Megan Pahmier, the exhibition returns handiwork to formalism, maintaining a sense of slackness. Metal armatures lean and bend precariously; a painting on unstretched canvas drags on the floor. Discarded materials and everyday objects come to conjure an upright but ‘bereft formalism’ (as Hanrahan calls it). Tenderness and despair coalesce in objects that can only just support themselves, much less make a claim for historical or philosophical significance. The works in the exhibition undermine past minimalisms from multiple directions—in terms of material, attitude, and dependence on context—but out of a care for and maintenance of form, rather than a casting off of it. Through these mergers of vernacular minimalism and sad design, work and supporting structure, Formal Complaint creates its own ecology of exhibitionary space.

Exhibition Events

April 15, 6-9pm
Opening Reception
May 25, 7pm
Artist talk

Aria Dean is an artist and writer based in Los Angeles, CA. She currently holds the position of Assistant Curator of Net Art & Digital Culture at Rhizome. Her writing has been featured in Artforum, The New Inquiry, Real Life Magazine, Topical Cream Magazine, and X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly. She also co-directs Los Angeles gallery and project space As It Stands LA. Currently, Dean’s research, writing, and visual work explore the relationship and resonances between blackness, media, and communication and information technologies. She works primarily through text and sculpture to hypothesize an apocalyptic blackness.

Female Background consists of Gabriella D’Italia and Cameron Crawford. Their collaborative work has been exhibited at TEMP, New York; Doyers, New York; and Perimeter Gallery, Belfast. Publications include Mary Magazine, Bell School Press; Touch, See, Taste vol. 1 (anthology), Temporary Agency; and Maine Arts Journal Quarterly, UMVA. Readings include Interstate Projects, New York.

Christopher Hanrahan was born in 1978 in Mudgee, Australia, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Hanrahan was the recipient of a 2015 Australia Council Greene Street Residency, a 2013 New Work Grant, and a 2013 Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship. He has exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas, notably at MONA, Hobart; PICA, Perth; Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Recent exhibitions include Vitreous Humour at Kansas Gallery, New York, and Sequester, Embassy of Australia Gallery, Washington, DC.

Mario Navarro (b. 1984) is a Mexican-American artist based in New York. The formal aesthetics and syntax to which Navarro returns stand as alternative references to certain classes of objects, just as words do not refer to things themselves. In Navarro’s practice, objects and architectures operate as nodes of meaning and conceptual signification within a broader system of relations. His work belongs to collections such as The Petitgas Collection (London), Frances R. Dittmer Collection (Chicago), Sayago & Pardon (Los Angeles), ArtNexus (Bogotá), Dieresis Collection (Guadalajara), and Fundación Colección Jumex (Mexico City).

Megan Pahmier lives and works in New York. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Maryland Institute College of Art and completed her Master of Fine Arts at Hunter College. Her work has been featured in the New York exhibitions Drawing for Sculpture at TSA Gallery and Future Fossils at Dutton Gallery as well as Hand, Finger, Digit at The Old Hairdressers in Glasgow, Scotland, among others. Most recently, she exhibited her work at Essex Flowers in New York in the two-person show Dust Stutter.


Dana Kopel is a curator and writer based in New York, where she works at the New Museum. Recent exhibitions include If you want to do something, forget this debt, and remember it later, Celaya Brothers Gallery, Mexico City; Givens, AA|LA, Los Angeles; Abstract Sex*, Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; and Care (curated with Marian Tubbs), Interstate Projects, Brooklyn, NY. She was an assistant curator for the Maldives Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Art in America, friezeX-TRA, Modern Painters, and elsewhere.

Rachael Rakes is an independent critic, curator, and teacher based in New York. She is currently the Programmer at Large for the Film Society of Lincoln Center; an editor at the Brooklyn Rail; and Editor at Large for Verso Books. Rakes has written criticism in numerous outlets, most recently for Art-Agenda, Artforum, the Village Voice, and Ocula. With Leo Goldsmith, she is at work on a book on the collaborative practices and media critique of radical filmmaker Peter Watkins, which received a 2014 Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant.


Knockdown Center’s exhibitions are selected through a competitive open call for proposals. Through a multi-round process, exhibition proposals are reviewed by Knockdown Center’s Curatorial Advisory Board and selected based on quality, distinctiveness, and response to Knockdown Center’s unique site and context within an ecosystem of live events.

Founded in 2015, the Knockdown Center’s Curatorial Advisory Board is currently comprised of seven sitting arts professionals with diverse but overlapping interests and fields of expertise. The Curatorial Advisory Board meets bi-annually to provide critical feedback on a wide range of proposals as well as contributing to discussions about larger programmatic goals. To learn more about proposing an exhibition or short-term project please visit our Proposals Page.

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