About the Exhibition
The World is Round features new commissions and recent works by Jacob Dyrenforth, Diana Guerrero-Maciá, Chris Hanson & Hendrika Sonnenberg, Matt Johnson, and Ryan McGinness, all of whom have created works that explore collective consciousness and expression. Although the artists work in a variety of media and thematic areas, their practices are all linked by an interest in shared languages and systems, whether personal or political, formal or informal.
Jacob Dyrenforth, Stand-Ins for the All-Time Greatest
Jacob Dyrenforth (b.1975, Cincinnati, OH) examines the ways in which elements of contemporary life become universal common denominators and touchstones, focusing in particular on cinematic tropes, the phenomena of rock superstardom and fandom, and countercultural incidents as they are represented in widespread photojournalistic imagery. His sculptural installations are replicas of culturally resonant tableaux, featuring an array of props that are constructed with purposeful artifice in order to draw attention to the familiar and easily overlooked.
Stand-Ins for the All-Time Greatest resembles a rock concert in the moments just before a show, when guitars are tuned and propped on stands until the band arrives onstage, as the crowd waits in anticipation. Dyrenforth’s guitars, which are made of foam and other movie or theatrical prop materials, are clearly stand-ins for the real thing. But music buffs will easily recognize them as depictions of specific makes and models of guitars, including a Fender Stratocaster, a Gibson SG, a Fender Telecaster and others. They represent the signature instruments of ten musicians whose names Dyrenforth compiled from an assortment of internet top-ten lists of the greatest guitar players of all time. Using the most minimal visual clues—basic shapes and just a few added design details—he creates a work that explores the universal appeal of rock-and-roll culture, as well as its online proliferation. The guitars and the stage they are placed on—a pristine minimalist platform with a mirrored surface—together function as a blank screen onto which the viewer can project his or her own narrative.
Diana Guerrero-Maciá, The Beautiful Game in Black and White
The Beautiful Game in Black and White by Diana Guerrero-Maciá (b.1966, Cleveland, OH) explores the ways in which soccer has become a universal language understood and “spoken” by billions of people around the world. The work depicts a flattened and scaled up soccer ball, rendered in vinyl on aluminum. Crossing political, religious, economic and geographical boundaries, soccer is perhaps the world’s most common pastime. (It is estimated that one in five people on the planet watched some part of the recent World Cup.) In addition to being culturally ubiquitous, the soccer ball is mathematically precise: its 32 facets form a truncated icosahedron, which is an Archimedean solid. Flattened into two dimensions, the form has similarities to a world map, and can be read as a metaphor for the global reach of sports and popular culture.
Guerrero-Maciá is best known for her hand-sewn text-based pieces, and the appropriation of familiar and found objects. In keeping with her interest in language, The Beautiful Game in Black and White contains an element of word play: where the soccer ball manufacturer’s logo would be, she transforms the name ‘Mitre’ (a popular European brand) so it reads “Mirth,” meaning joy or amusement. She also appliquès “32” onto the work’s surface, as a player’s number would be stitched onto a jersey, noting the coincidence between soccer ball geometry and the number of teams that advance to the World Cup finals.
Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg, Soapbox
Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg have been collaborating for over fifteen years. Originally from Canada, they now live and work in Brooklyn. They are best known for their meticulously crafted sculptures of recognizable objects, made out of unusual materials such as blue and green polystyrene foam. The things they depict are familiar, like a Zamboni or a chain-link fence, and the sculptures’ unusual materiality brings into question the objects’ functions, their permanence or lack thereof, or their perceived role or symbolic place in society.
Soapbox, Hanson and Sonnenberg’s sculpture for MetroTech, is a cast aluminum depiction of a trio of soapboxes. This new work relates to their recent sculptural series portraying press-conference microphones, in which the objects’ unusable presence and air of forlorn abandonment served as oblique commentary on the current state of the press and the transmission of information. In contrast, the idea of getting up on a soapbox—either literally or metaphorically—to address a crowd is considered a fundamentally democratic form of expression, extemporaneous and unfiltered by media. By casting these otherwise utilitarian and flimsy objects in aluminum, Hanson and Sonnenberg venerate the most valued cultural ideal, freedom of speech, with a monument that could also serve as a functional speaking platform.
Matt Johnson, 4eva
Los Angeles-based artist Matt Johnson’s playful sculptures depict everyday objects in unexpected, appealing ways, altering materiality and function in order to challenge typical meanings and assumptions. Johnson’s meticulously crafted works strike an unsettling balance between reality and artifice, calling into question how and where the artist has intervened with the chosen objects. Johnson (b.1978, NY) often incorporates elements of wordplay, and art historical or cultural references, resulting in wry yet fanciful conceptual witticisms.
Johnson’s low-key intervention in MetroTech’s manicured landscape, 4eva, is a large, three-ton boulder of ancient pre-Cambrian granite, flecked with what appear to be quartz veins. Upon closer inspection the viewer can see that the veins spell out the number ‘4’ and the letters ‘EVA,’ which together form shorthand for the word ‘FOREVER.’ Johnson’s prehistoric object seems to convey its timeless nature in an unusually direct and very contemporary manner, using the abbreviated language of text messaging to convey a colloquial phrase one might expect to find in a high-school yearbook. Expanding upon the age-old graffitist’s impulse—from cave drawing to tree carving to senior-class spray painting—4eva is an instance of personal mark-making cleverly masquerading as a natural occurrence.
Ryan McGinness, Equo ne Credite, Teucri
New York-based artist Ryan McGinness (b.1972, Virginia Beach, VA) utilizes the authoritative and universal visual language of corporate logos and public signage to create lively, iconic artwork. Noting that “logos create perceived value,” McGinness recycles certain motifs, incorporating myriad pop cultural and art historical references as well as anonymous graphic forms and ornamental embellishment to create a dazzling visual system of his own making.
McGinness’s installation, Equo ne Credite, Teucri (“Do not trust the horse, Trojans!”), comprises a set of signs placed throughout the MetroTech Commons. They play off of the way signage employs simple pictograms to convey information to a wide cross section of the public. Upon first glance, the signs appear to be officially issued, since their colors and finish are in keeping with other fixtures in the area. However, they are actually a series of eye-catching but cryptic images imbued with personal meaning. With its title—a reference to the ancient priest Laocoön’s attempt to warn the Trojans against letting the Greeks’ gift inside city walls, described in The Aeneid by the epic poet Virgil—McGinness warns viewers of his attempt to subvert the public environment with his cooptation of mainstream communication strategies.