Serialize is a group exhibition featuring contemporary and historic works by Wallace Berman, Mark Flood, Guillaume Gelot, Dean Sameshima, and Andy Warhol at Peres Projects in Berlin. The gallery reflects itself as two symbiotic yet incongruous halves – works seeming to double themselves and duplicate their contents, punctuating undercurrents of difference between them.
Mark Flood engages with the historic manifestation of seriality in its most contemporary terms of teen celebrity. For Ancient Greek and African societies, serial reproductions were a product of adoration and worship; The proliferation of gods and divine idols promoted evidence of their value. Artists’ painstaking efforts at imaging and re-imaging divinities can be seen as emblematic of their devotion, and as gesture, a powerful testament of love. Today, the urge proliferates in the secular world as a mania: the intricate yet improvisational nature of a teenage girl’s bedroom wall is recalled in Flood’s shrine-like work, which travels across the wall and seems to spread virally.
Andy Warhol pioneered seriality as it reemerged in the postwar period at the forefront of Pop Art. As consumerism took over the systems of mass production implemented for the war effort, artists came to terms with unprecedented levels of commodification and mechanical reproduction. Series and repetition became the language of its subversion. On view in the gallery are two works from Warhol’s Ladies And Gentlemen series, which took New York City drag queens from the streets and clubs and put them into the limelight. Each is a set of four portraits taken in rapid sequence, highlighting the subjects’ nuances of expression and character. As with other bodies of works by Warhol, this series of polaroids was later employed into silk screen works on canvas. By using and reusing the same image not only within one body of work but also across different media, Warhol paradoxically impoverishes the image through its ubiquity and enriches the value of a work by its subsequent cultural significance. It is this duality that is the underlying tension of these serial creations.
Wallace Berman worked with photographic manipulation, collage, and assemblage at a critical time in their respective evolutions in the beat-era of the early 1960s. The unifying image in this series of lithographs is lifted from a 1963 Sony transistor radio advertisement, on which Berman collaged the various tropes and motifs, pioneering the use of the Verifax automated photocopier–his main artistic tool throughout the majority of his practice. These mimetic works blend mysticism with popular imagery–from a Hindu statue to an American football player, diverse cultural references appear to evolve within the series, almost as in a stream of consciousness. Through Berman’s appropriation, Kabbalah and Christianity are woven monochromatically with motifs from contemporary Americana, all fitting in the palm of a hand.
Guillaume Gelot expands on a series of grid paintings that explore units of measurements as content. These black grids co-opt information systems as composition, and reduce painting to its fundamentals as both a proposition and a vessel for information. In some instances, the gridded cells are “cut-off” by constraints of scale, recalling at once mechanical failure as well as suggesting a continued sequence that feels unnerving. Instead of attempting to “answer” the timeless question of what painting is or ought to be, GELOT’s works instead address mythical suggestions as to what it is not.
Dean Sameshima’s practice centers around male sexuality, unrequited love and historic depictions of maleness. Though sometimes explicitly tied to the artist’s own history, Sameshima’s work often calls to mind societal attitudes towards “the other” and functions within a framework of internal struggles between social normativity and feelings of alienation. Untitled (Predator to Prey) is a sculpture made from a series of paintings Sameshima created in 2007, Dahmer (in 17 pieces), depicting gay serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. The original series consisted of 17 silkscreen portraits on canvas depicting Dahmer while on trial for the murder of 17 young men. The repetition and elevation of Dahmer’s trial image to a series of works on canvas implied both a fascination with the killer’s inability to relate to his subjects of desire as well as the celebrity status achieved through his heinous crimes. For Predator to Prey, Sameshima cannibalises this early work, creating a new sculpture reminiscent of a funeral pyre.
Warhol, Flood, Sameshima, Gelot and Berman - Serialize
Peres Projects, March 21 - April 18