From 1967 to 1968, Richard Serra made a drawing that enumerated 84 verbs, among other parts of speech, to describe ways to create sculpture. His drawing, Verb List, makes explicit the actions that were primary to Serra’s early works, such as “to roll,” “to lift,” “to split.” Today, some emerging artists make use of a verb that was not on that seminal list: “to choose.” For these artists, the act of selection allows them to engage with material abundance, and serves as a key mode of production and communication.
Taster’s Choice highlights three emerging artists and one artist collective who regard choice as both the process and content of their work. They recognize what specific materials can convey: the intentionally neutral effect of brown industrial carpeting, or the aspirational nature of stainless-steel kitchen appliances. Juxtaposing materials and images, and filtering them for specific themes, the artists allude to emotional connections between individuals and objects, amplifying, distorting, and confusing the meanings that their choices suggest.
Recently, social and monetary value has been placed on the “curated lifestyle” and algorithms that predict a consumer’s predilections. Whether it is a person or computer that makes recommendations, such guides and tools have assumed increasing importance in an era of big data. Methods of pre-selection are marketed not only for their utility but are bundled with the promise of expression. Choosing offers a way to speak to others, a manner of communication that lies at the intersection of communal consensus and individual regard. It allows an individual to convey qualities, desires, or aspirations that foster affinities with certain groups and distance from others.
BFFA3AE (Daniel Chew, Micaela Durand, Matthew Gaffney; founded 2007) began as an Internet surf-club blog named after the shorthand for “best friends forever and ever and ever.” Working online and in physical space, the collective creates performances, videos, and sculptures that examine how the Internet has influenced social norms and mass culture, particularly the lifestyles of teens and adolescents. For Taster’s Choice, BFFA3AE presents a new film and a series of sculptures examining excess, desire, and teen culture.
Zak Kitnick (American, b. 1984) creates sculptures utilizing products instead of materials. Interested in the inefficiency between our expectations for an object and an object’s potential, he repurposes industrial products and procedures. For Taster’s Choice, Kitnick debuts a new series of work that address the aesthetics and taxonomies of Hamilton Beach kitchen appliances. Kitnick appropriates images and graphics from the packaging of these small appliances, processing and printing the information on transparent substrates. A central concern of the work is the porous boundary between art, décor, and utility. For the artist, buying can be making—selection becomes the primary method of production—yet the products are often marked by their absence.
Nancy Lupo (American, b. 1983) highlights the emotional associations elicited by objects and materials. Her sculptures often have intentionally ambiguous forms that draw directly from quotidian life and yet pervert such notions of the everyday. From some vantage points, Lupo’s floor-based works behave as small-scaled furniture— while from other views, they appear as organic abstractions. Other pieces disrupt known forms like Rubbermaid Brute containers or heart-shaped ice cube trays. Lupo juxtaposes content and form to produce disquieting works, especially by incorporating non-traditional materials like quinoa, chia seeds, nutritional yeast, and kitty litter into her sculptures. For this exhibition, Lupo presents new sculptures that have a relationship to architecture and feature surfaces consisting of ancient grains and modified nutritional substances.
Chris Wiley (American, b. 1981) has made photographs that depict vernacular architecture, particularly in the Los Angeles area. His latest series, titled Dingbats, emphasizes the physical qualities of the images by framing them in discordant materials like industrial carpeting, stucco, and vinyl flooring. Wiley draws connections between image and object while maintaining the seemingly arbitrary nature of the conflations.
Taster’s Choice is organized by Christopher Y. Lew, Assistant Curator, MoMA PS1.