Paris, London, Hong Kong presents Joliet, a solo exhibition of new work by Los Angeles-based artist Michael Genovese. "Joliet features a series of plasma-cut steel wall reliefs that explore the value of space, isolation, and stillness. The exhibition’s title references the Illinois city of Joliet, originally spelled Juliet, which is considered by many a small prison town. The connotations of the name (Shakespeare’s Juliet and the city’s reputation), raise a sense of longing and contemplation, and the tension of restraint. Genovese’s works resemble large cracks along the gallery walls, causing a consideration of the confined space and the perimeters, therein. The weighted steel works are the culmination of historical fractures, political, and popular culture references, which Genovese traces and removes from their original context and repurposes for his practice. He employs a reduced material vocabulary as a means to quiet the mind and heal information overload. In doing so, he leaves the viewer in a contemplative confinement; left to confront their innermost thoughts, fears, and desires."
“In university my friend, a former ballerina, discovered she had caused a stress fracture in her shin from working out too much at the gym. Sometimes described as a hairline fracture, I imagined watching this crack creeping across my friend’s leg like a sheet of ice crazing under my foot as my full weight came to rest on its cool surface. Or, to put the emphasis on the “stress,” I imagined my entire body slowly shattering when the weight of anxiety or fear or loneliness could be felt too heavily on my mind, my shoulders, my heart.
While I’ve seen cracks and crazes, and fractures and fissures, the imagining of the incident, the slow traveling of the fractures path as it tears, at a meandering pace, throughout he matter that it is dividing, has resonance. It’s a sharp pang in the stomach you let slip between your fingers the moment, the person, the place, and it falls away from your grasp for good. It’s an ache as a distance stretched out between you and a loved one when the last words exchanged drive you further apart and you both watch, dumbfounded, as this last breach gapes wider, it’s a twinge in your heart as you taste the bittersweet. It’s the distress that crumples the mind, fragmenting into a million little cavities that hold a million little details that can no longer be held together. It’s the sting of disappointment that splinters the ego, as bad news comes to rest. And it is also the stitch, that creeps down your side, marking a moment of exertion when your body feels the last burst of its efforts in a sensation that both severs and joins it, a sensation of both pain and triumph.” Continue Reading ⍄
“Michael Genovese’s linear wall reliefs mimic the everyday cracks in pavement, walls and other human structures that surround us; they also serve as traces and indexes of the less tangible fractures around us. His current exhibition at Paris, London, Hong Kong (the new gallery’s second show), “Joliet,” references the city that brands itself the “crossroads of Mid-America” and has historically served as both a railway transportation hub and a site for adult and juvenile prisons. Genovese, originally from Chicago, uses these local associations to his advantage, giving the slick, nickel-plated, mirror-polished steel cracks that crawl across the gallery space more political and historical weight. But the formalisms of the cracks themselves stand alone as repositories for abstract imagery from natural and invented worlds: like stitched seams, imagined lines of constellations, and uncanny growth of strange plant life, they seem filled with forces of gravity and grace, dripping down walls or attempting to scale and branch. The overall effect recalls Charles Ray’s famous declaration about “Hinoki,” on view at the Art Institute of Chicago, that he was trying to “breathe intentionality into” the found rotting log that he copied in a wooden sculpture.”
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“Lines and Cracks and Zebras and Horses – a recently completed body of work based on lineation, cleave, and the concept implied by the aphorism: “When you hear hoof beats behind you, don’t expect to see a zebra.” A series of plasma-cut steel wall reliefs located throughout the gallery compose a subtle arrangement based equally on materiality and concept.”
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“Walking into Michael Genovese’s exhibition at OHWOW, a viewer might think there’s been a horrible earthquake, or that the space is simply in a state of disrepair. Snaking over the surface of every wall are large, meandering cracks, with unsettling implications for the building’s structural integrity.
But this unease dissipates quickly. The fissures are in fact shiny and metallic, as if filled not with putty but quicksilver. And closer inspection reveals that they are not cracks at all but cut metal objects, affixed to the walls.
This realization feels like a bit of bait-and-switch. Genovese’s installation comes on like a site-specific piece — an engagement with the space of the gallery itself. But the fact that the “cracks” are actually individual sculptural pieces that can be removed and possibly reapplied to different walls feels cynical. They are then just objects to be bought and sold. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But additional context is provided by a photocopied book depicting fissures and lines of all kinds: cracks in the sidewalk, maps, zebra stripes, a pendant split into two halves.
Genovese is interested in how lines divide and connect; create distance or communication. His sculptures turn these vectors into objects in their own right, emphasizing the spaces in between rather than on either side. In our increasingly Balkanized political climate, it’s a more than welcome metaphor.”
-Sharon Mizota, Los Angeles Times
“The title of Michael Genovese’s exhibition (Lines and Cracks and Zebras and Horses) draws in part on a colloquial aphorism — “when you hear hooves beat behind you, don’t expect to see a zebra” or “when you hear hooves beat, think horses, not zebras” — which typically is understood to evolve from the principle of Occam’s (or Ockham’s) razor. Attributed to the 14th century logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham, the principle states, “Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate,” or “Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.”
Over time, this principle has been largely misunderstood to mean that as a general rule, in both science and philosophy, one should stick with the most “obvious” hypothesis or conclusion, as that is typically the correct one. In fact, what Occam proposed was a guideline to developing a theory, not a conclusion: the idea that when you have competing theories that make the same predictions/conclusion, the simpler is better. Importantly, the notion of simpler is not necessarily what seems most obvious (which usually includes one’s untested biases, preferences and predilections), but rather the one with the most observable elements (empirically testable), the fewest new assumptions.”
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“Visitors to artist Michael Genovese’s solo show, Lines and Cracks and Zebras and Horses, at the OHWOW Gallery in Los Angeles have cause for concern — massive, silvery cracks run along the otherwise pristine gallery walls. The room appears to be on the verge of crumbling. These fault lines are not really chasms (although you can never really be sure about these things in contemporary art). They are more like casts of chasms, memorials to anything that might take on the form of a line, however sacred or banal. Accompanied by a book of line-dominated images, notably a thunderous herd of zebras, the impossibly reflective sculptures are arresting for their scale and symbolism. Each sculpture is the convergence of disparate worlds: Pompeii frescoes meet Metallica; a crack from an Iranian Mihrab dated 720 A.D. fuses with a mortar line from the vicinity of Castillo de San Marcos in Florida. Looking at them, it’s entirely appropriate to feel like you’re in the throes of an earthquake.
In an interview with Genovese explained that his work is about “designating value” to fragments of life. Whether it’s staring at stray hairs in the bathtub or gazing at a historical landmark (a very loaded term, in the context of this show), these moments mean something because, in that instant, we are registering the things around us and trying to make sense of them. By turning a crack, usually associated with damage, into a sculpture, Genovese alters the meaning of the crack.”
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"The Belly and the Members brings together artistic positions from 20 international artists that visualise and present the fragmented body as a provocative field of inquiry. Including work from a variety of media, the exhibition focuses on notions of fragmentation, dismemberment and decay specifically in relation to the human body and its inextricable psychological self. The Belly and the Members shares its title with an Aesop Fable from the 6th century BC wherein the extremities, or ‘members’, of the body go on strike in defiance of the belly who they believe to be greedily taking all the food; until they themselves weaken to the point of realisation that they cannot survive alone. The discernment that “all must work together or the body will go to pieces” becomes an allegory for a symbiotic reliance on reciprocal interrogation between artworks.
The Belly and the Members posits that the ontology of an artwork has much in common with the body: responding to pressures, meeting projected expectations and as an outward expression of an inner self whose surface remains a sensitive terrain susceptible to exterior traumas. As our interface with an external world, individually we each relate to the experience of inhabiting a body; but once dissembled, fragmented bodies stand collectively as analogies for our increasingly disparate society and global territories more generally. Living in what has been referred to as a “post-truth” world, the boundaries between fiction and reality come under scrutiny as artists compel a self-reflective reassessment of the political as well as the personal..."- Curated by Antonia Marsh
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Group Exhibition w/ Jon Lowenstein and Nina Berman at Art Works Projects ⍄
In Plain Sight is an exhibition and public presentation of investigative projects about human trafficking and forced labor in the USA with work by Nina Berman, Michael Genovese, and Jon Lowenstein. Human trafficking, sexual slavery and forced labor, once thought of as international crimes, are now recognized as serious domestic issues, with thousands of cases reported each year across the USA. As a Midwestern transportation hub, Chicago is a focal point for criminals looking to profit off of slave labor. This ease of access, in combination with large vulnerable populations of undocumented immigrants and impoverished, at risk youth, has made human trafficking and forced labor a pressing local problem.
Despite engaged and progressive law enforcement at the local, county and federal level, Chicago still lacks necessary resources to provide immediate care for those fleeing brutal, violent forms of bondage. Only one safe house exists to serve the entire city.
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By car, Michael Genovese and photographer/film-maker Jon Lowenstein travelled the U.S. conducting interviews with survivors of forced labor to bring awareness to the extreme cases of victimization, which were happening in plain sight. A remarkable group of people, who endured varied levels of deception and abuse, shared their stories of debt bondage, human trafficking, child labor, and prostitution. From Washington D.C., down the East Coast, into Central Florida to New Orleans and Dallas, they worked with safe houses, labor rights organizations, and individuals, to better understand their unfortunate circumstance. Genovese and Lowenstein traced these intimate stories through photography and video, experiencing the psychic residue left behind in small towns, truck stops, trailer parks, and hotels where these incidents took place, and continue to occur.
Michael Genovese presents Post-Post Scriptum, the second exhibition in a series of work created during his one-year visiting artist tenure at the Frost Art Museum and Florida International University. This body of work is an interpretation of the archived information, research, and development accumulated over the past year, when Genovese studied the social commentary and drawings collected on campus and the surrounding area, through his P.S. Project (2008-12). The information gathered was designated into 16 various subjects, including: Faith, Stereotypes, and Existentialism, to capture the zeitgeist of students during a time of change. The text was then transcribed and translated into different languages, archived in an on-line repository, which was created in collaboration with the Frost Art Museum.
In this exhibition, Genovese reintroduces the information by performing as a scribe. The text is meticulously hand-engraved, using a codex designed by the artist, onto mirror polished plates of aluminum, electroplated and cut into shapes referencing relics of early civilizations from 196 B.C. and the 12th century. The shapes recall the Rosetta Stone and the Seven Tablets of Creation, but rather than the original decrees or sacred texts incised on the surface, Genovese’s inscriptions reveal the social commentary of today. Quotes such as: "Not all brown people are terrorists," or "God. Has. Forgotten. Me," reveal an intimate dialogue that marks our moment in history. The other work in the exhibition include vitrines arranged with documents of the transcriptions, photographic prints of scans and screen shots culled from the internet, collaged images, and a wall relief (Mimesis, 2012), which is a polished steel fissure that combines a tracing of a sidewalk crack found on campus and a line from a fractured fresco found in a photo of Pompeii. Curated by Klaudio Rodriguez
Installation views ⍄
Fueled by a desire to understand what it is to be human, at the most elemental of levels, contemporary artist Michael Genovese set out to examine the American public during times of transition. This four-year exchange created a social dialogue, through the most fundamental form of communication – conversation. With Post Script, Genovese presented the first of two exhibitions. Seven large-scale works pointed to his research and development, gleaned during his one-year visiting artist tenure at the Frost Art Museum and Florida International University.
He combined over 20 different surfaces, carved and written on with specific themes, such as: existentialism, dreams, and Intoxication, including works from different parts of the country to create a conversation about cross-cultural comparisons. This monochromatic exhibition featured an aluminum composite material incised with markings created by students of FIU and the general public. The plates were arranged in various compositions that pointed to works he studied from the Frost Art Museums permanent collection, including pieces by David Hockney, Agnes Martin, Louise Nevelson, and Frederick Kiesler.
The exhibition begins with a combination of rectangles and squares that climb the wall and rest on the floor, paired with an extrusion chair made by Emmet Moore. This composition is a silhouette of Frederick Kieslers Galaxy 1, and features six aluminum composite plates that have incised drawings and social commentary from various institutions from around the country. The locations include: FIU campus, The Miami Art Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The University of Texas San Antonio, Loyola University, and a plate installed in a bathroom at a local billiard hall.
Next to this installation, Genovese presents a combination of work where the plates are cut to adjoin on the same plane with a circular plate mounted the center of the work. The shapes and color recall a Louis Nevelson piece from the Frost collection, held together with a set of square tubing, which references a work on paper – Chicago, 1952, by Artist Agnes Martin – and an internet symbol – Flipping Table. The plates content mix drawing and social commentary created by Miami-Dade high school students, and the surface of a lunch table from the Frost Art Museum. Continue Reading ⍄
Michael Genovese’s work operates as a reflection, both in a conceptual context and in a literal sense. This exhibition addresses a range of subjects, from Art History to American culture, pomposity to personal debt. The artist holds up a mirror in order to understand his identity and his role in relation to these subjects, while challenging the viewer to perform the same exercise. How we define ourselves, our choice of expression, the ways we are influenced by what we read and experience, all create cause for reflection and require a measure of humility in doing so.
Genovese’s text engravings on high-polished aluminum panels are simultaneously illegible and painstakingly detailed; they are further evolved reincarnations of pulp and prose. By turning his formerly disregarded mail – unpaid bills, debt collector threats, and legal documents – into sacred objects, he aims to more accurately convey the power of burden. Also among this collection of engravings is a panel cataloging public commentary gathered from a previous project, citing nonsensical quotes like “Tippy-toe on the pooty-side” alongside profound examples: “Our dreams don’t fit on your ballot”. Another engraving plucks sections of cultural essays; from Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” : “You ache with the need to convince yourself that you do exist in the real world…”. Two chrome-plated, twin pieces, present the myth of Narcissus – one in Spanish, the other in French.
A pentaptych of paintings, executed in a style similar to the engravings, rewrites selections from a manifesto on Futurism – a lofty art movement, full of Italian bravado, which fell short of its own expectations. “Today, let tomorrow go” is the incomprehensible message on a monochromatic black painting. In each incarnation of the two-dimensional work a reflection is forced, but an obstacle exists – the process of analysis is difficult, uncomfortable, and at times simply impossible. The overall presentation of this work is an appropriation of theories from “Art and the Power of Placement” and a nod to the bygone era of formal gallery settings.
Three large-scale sculptures continue the conversation of obstacle and experience. A porch, missing its home, is preserved like a giant chunk of amber containing the DNA of a tragic history. A bizarre arrangement of ordinary pipes and chains is elevated to grandiose through its nickel-plated treatment. Metal rails are manipulated into a circular formation, grounded with cement footings molded from traffic cones. The motive of this work is also an interactive one; an invitation to flex your agility on a course constructed to humiliate.
Accumulated sheets of paper, in actuality, weigh less than an ounce, yet can resonate the poundage of an anvil. Genovese takes intellectual ideas and gives them anatomy to match significance, while trying to preserve their original integrity. Ten-gauge aluminum panels somehow feel ephemeral, and a hulking wooden sculpture still gives a fragile impression; interpretations change depending on the view.
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“There is a plant in the side room as well, which may be the most interesting piece in the whole show: this one is alive, and is a blue agave plant on which Genovese has carved text. Anyone familiar with his work will recognize this stylistic incorporation, as he painstakingly writes and carves his version of hieroglyphics on his works, often made of a metal. But in this case, Genovese found the writings of a self-help guru online and repeated his words on the plant, which he will continue to add to as the agave grows. It’s pretty cool all around. On the wall is a nickel- plated aluminum mirror (like everything here, a creative take on an average household object), also with a script inscribed.”Tschida, Anne. Escape this room, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
"Resting with the petals of a rose, by Michael Genovese is a piece with a heightened sense of symbolism. The artist who has always had an interest in codification and the representation of history through the construction and deconstruction of symbols, presents up with a blue agave plant whose leaves have been engraved with phrases extracted from self-help videos from YouTube. The job of the agave-whose leaves continually regenerate - is to incorporate the ides of evolution and continuum that underlies Genovese's work." Batet, Janet. Escape the Room, Artes y Letras, El Nuevo Herald, Miami, FL
Organized by Michelle Weinberg
Writ Deep: Craft and the embedded word
Northern Illinois University School of Art and Design
Curated by Shannon Stratton
Rather than looking to the history of language art, Writ Deep is an exploration of the relationship between craft and text as a unique affinity between forms. Where the use of text in art has historically been to push the boundaries of the field - including operating as an anti-art form or advocating for an anti-aesthetic - text and craft share a longer history where text is anything but anti-craft.
Craft that employs text lends language a physicality: a tangible , as opposed to metaphorical, body. Craft and text is an obliging re-unification of body and mind as the abstract is made manifest both materiality and methodologically. In Writ Deep the idea of the embedded text connects the work of Michael Dinges, Michael Genovese, Carol Jackson and Rebecca Ringquist whose processes of scrimshaw, engraving, weather tooling, and embroidery and appliqué (respectively) are rooted in craft traditions. Each of these artists is invested in these forms as their chosen medium, as opposed to utilized them strictly for a singular metaphor, and each employs text as a major mark in their work.
To embed something means to plant it firmly and deeply in surrounding mass. In the case of text and craft, the word is surrounded by material that supports, informs and contextualizes it in a way that the page alone cannot. In a craft/text relationship, the material substrate becomes a body for the text to inhabit, not just a supporting surface. Through methodologies like engraving, etching and embroidery, text impregnates the material, creating a resolute bond that literally alters or changes the substrate through a kind of scoring or scarring of the surface - actions that call to mind a body as it might be scratched and scarred through use or through decoration. Scars are telling reminders of a body’s history; in the case of text, materiality and craft, the connection between method of incision and the substrate itself becomes one that is partially dependent on the material’s narrative and partially dependent on the narrative inherent to the process. Continue Reading ⍄
w/Juan Angel Chavez
University of Texas San Antonio and Unit B
Two Person Exhibition w/ Juan Angel Chavez
Organized by Kimberly Aubuchon
ARTLIES: Contemporary Art Quarterly
Sign Language at Unit B and University of Texas San Antonio
Ben Judson Issue #46
“Genovese’s work reveals an artist casting about—looking for different ways to incorporate his background into a contemporary gallery context. As a result, his contributions to the exhibition feel more like a survey than a focused body of work. At UTSA, a fruit cart reading “Corn Piraguas Chicharrones” in Genovese’s distinctive script shares the space with chaotic freeform etchings, leather impressed belts and a rack piled with signs promoting one of the artist’s previous exhibitions. The fruit cart is part of a larger project in which Genovese offers to paint (or repaint) the carts of street vendors for whatever they can afford, or builds a new cart and offers it to the vendor. In a talk at the opening he recounted how often vendors rebuff his offers, figuring him for a con man of some sort. When crossing cultural boundaries, an anonymous act of charity can often be viewed as a trick or act of condescension. Genovese asks strangers not just to buy his art but to have it emblazoned on the vehicle of their livelihood, mingling his professional identity with theirs in a way that demands a certain level of trust. There is a sort of antagonism in this act; the artist is daring strangers to take him at his word. What is not clear is whether Genovese intends to clarify a source of antagonism or demonstrate a kind of positive interpersonal dynamic through charity.
In other works, Genovese seems interested in taking snapshots of human behavior, be they aggressive, generous, intellectual or profane. He encourages viewers to scratch marks on blank metal panels—a kind of uncontrolled “permission” graffiti, which he later presents as an image of the community in which it was created. Completed versions of these etchings are on view at both spaces, along with blank surfaces to record the random thoughts of San Antonio’s art citizenry. This is a reversal of the carts: rather than asking to mark someone else’s property, he’s asking strangers to mark on his work—to mingle their thoughts with his professional identity. Ironically, this feels more like an act of charity than offering to paint fruit carts. I’m not sure that either action gets to the heart of antagonism or charity, but this is partly due to the fact that the exhibits do not fully commit to this exploration. Signs painted with phrases like “We’re all we’ve got” in different languages muddle what could be a poignant journey into social space.”- Ben Judson