"Evidence of Circumstance" 3/17- 4/22/23

Evidence of Circumstance

Evidence of Circumstance
March 17 – April 22, 2023

Curated by Josephine Halvorson

Evidence of Circumstance is a group exhibition presenting works in video, sculpture, print, painting, and collage, by five contemporary artists: Mitsuko Brooks, Corin Hewitt, Dani Levine, Helen Mirra, and Calixto Ramírez. Though their practices vary widely, the artists gathered here seek out discovery through chance encounters with the physical world. I have brought together works that share questions I have in my own practice, specifically how circumstance—forces beyond one’s own control—can work in tandem with artistic will. In these works, contingency, coincidence, movement, and environment lend a hand to artistic process, imparting their agency through material transformation.

Mitsuko Brooks sends mail art to friends, strangers, and her future self, releasing personal messages into public circulation. As a librarian, Brooks collects discarded book covers, onto which she collages diaristic writings, wishes, words of protest and resistance, and archival material. Neighbors and postal workers contribute additional markings, sometimes unintentionally, folding together author and recipient. Sometimes, Brooks archives the letters in large paintings, memorializing her expressions and coming to terms with letting go.

Corin Hewitt’s Recomposed Roman Monochromes break down the division between an image and what it depicts, collapsing vision, site, and time. After photographing tourists taking photos of Rome, Hewitt averaged the pixels digitally into monochromatic prints, which he buried in the city where the photos were taken. After a period of time, he unearthed each one, scanning the transformed and decomposed print, revealing the element of place in the image’s making.

Dani Levine’s large paintings are composed of organic and synthetic materials. Levine treats pigments and grounds as fellow actors in the studio, fusing her own compositional plans with their alchemical agenda. The motifs of a billowy sail and a rhythmic pinwheel recur in Levine’s work, suggesting wind and motion as metaphors of change. The direction that a painting takes is not up to the artist alone, but guided by a mixture of artistic will and the slipperiness of matter.

Helen Mirra’s two small sculptures sit on the floor, humble and austere. The wooden planks were hand-hewn from shipping palettes the artist brought back to her studio in Berlin in 2006. That’s when she found the pinecones too, in the Grunewald forest. Reconfigured, the sculptures evidence the trees they came from and those who might have walked by.

Calixto Ramírez uses his body to understand and gauge the physical world. He responds improvisationally to surface texture, vagaries of weather, and various instruments, documenting these brief and unscripted encounters with a fixed-frame video camera. Using the simplest means possible, Ramírez assimilates into the scene while grazing against, and sometimes crossing, the lines of predictable behavior.

—Josephine Halvorson