My practice is rooted in sculptural inquiry. Through this lens I move fluidly from object-making, to video, to performance. There are often overlaps between these three methods of working. Objects used in a video reappear in a performance or as part of a sculpture. Over time this has led me to build an iconography that is simultaneously hyper-specific and universal. Seemingly mundane store bought objects such as furniture gliders, foam paint rollers, photo reflectors, and banana clips, get reinterpreted through slight adjustments to their structures, though more often, their functions. For instance in my 2014 video, Necklace, paint rollers get slung into an oversized necklace and start to resemble grotesque sausage-like links; and in the 2014 wall sculpture, Magnet Trap, furniture gliders get sandwiched together with caulking to look like Oreos or pharmaceuticals. By making these playful alterations I want to trigger an original experience with found manufactured objects, which usually leave little room for open-ended engagement.
In my videos I use the visual language of magic and the logic found in early childhood entertainment, often geared to be pedagogical, to create narratives that are based on simple patterns interrupted by transformation. I use this formula as a starting point and let the narrative unfold in intuitive, yet unpredictable ways. In my 2016 video, Kismet Tutorial, my hands present a rotating doughnut that is simultaneously moving forward and retreating. The movement is hypnotic yet aimless; but after a couple of minutes of rotating, the doughnut starts to shoot out ping pong balls, immediately transforming itself from a passive play thing to an orifice. The video is distinctly frontal like a magic show, however there are moments of disclosure that unlike a magic show happen in front of the performance. At a certain point, a sieve-like lens appears in the foreground, interrupting the green-screen effect to reveal the set and my disguised form. The sieve also doubles as a surface for the out-coming balls to land on, and finally as a racket that bounces the balls. The objects in the video first appear to be abstract and formally driven, but evolve and explore different functions.
An important part of Kismet Tutorial is its presentation. The screen and the video are experienced sculpturally. The video is projected on a 72″ x 60″ freestanding plexi-glass screen. The projection occupies approximately ¼ of the screen whilst the rest is translucent with sculptural objects inserted into it. The objects are two jumbo hand-carved buttons with a string of token-shaped pieces strung through the buttonholes. These objects reference the topological qualities of the doughnut in the video- simply put, circles with holes through them.
Similarly, in Glider Shuffle, shown at the Kitchen in 2015, a clear plexiglass screen stands in space. A thin band of video is projected onto it featuring furniture gliders slowly rotating and traversing the slim strip. The clear space on the screen is there to consider gravity as well as the dual focus of what a screen is – an obstruction to look at and a gateway to look through.
Screens also appear in my performance work. In Selections From Sports Closet, a stage consisting of a folding-screen shifts, collapses, and forms to my movements. The screen references my video screens, as well as my use of green screen during production, by acting as a ground that cuts off and delineates my body as I move around it. In the performance, I am doing repetitive actions, or reps, with a step stool and an over-sized paint tray, things reminiscent of domestic fitness and utility. The structure of the screen steers the actions within and around moments of privacy.
While my performances and videos center on the body’s experience, my sculptural work focuses on domestic forms and familiar geometries that somehow reflect the body. Often using an object of utility as a starting point, I make abstracted iterations of it. One reoccurring form in my current work is the “tray”. A tray is the shallowest of vessels. It is not conducive to enclosing or carrying anything a long-distance, but works well for presentation and domestic distances. Unlike a vase for instance, the tray’s volume and function are fully exposed; they are barely three-dimensional and barely useful. In my 2015 sculptures Wired Tray and Resting Tray I play with the shallow depth of the trays by stretching fabric with prints of life-sized objects on them. The objects appear to be real and eerily hovering over a ribbed support beneath the stretched fabric.
By working across mediums, I want to understand form in a platonic and haptic sense. In my video work I address objects as pure ideas, ungrounded and scaleless: through my sculptural work, I address them as autonomous, yet imperfect; and in my performances, as tethered extensions of myself. Having a multi-faceted practice has allowed me to augment the origin of my imagery and process thus allowing for an insular logic and aesthetic that is a common thread throughout my work.
MFA Virginia Commonwealth University, Sculputure + Extendend Media, Richmond, VA.
BFA School of the Visual Arts, New York, NY.
Edge Thin, Solo show curated by Amber Esseiva at AIR Gallery, Brooklyn NY
Hip Openers, Nurture Art, Brooklyn NY.
Holistic Approach, Pioneer Works, Brooklyn NY 2012 Whiff of Black Ice Thesis exhibition Anderson Gallery, Richamond VA.
Something Bright, then Holes; Alina Tenser and Kristen Jensen curated by Nichole Caruso at Interstate Projects, Brooklyn NY.
Alina Tenser and Gary Stephan at Susan Inglett Gallery, New York, NY.
Ultraviolet, Alina Tenser and Nathlie Provosty at Gallery Diet, Miami, FL.
Linda Lopez and Alina Tenser at Pig and Pony, Austin, TX.
Alina Tenser and Bill Jenkins, The Suburban, Chicago IL.
SELECT GROUP EXHIBITIONS
Space Oddity, curated by Matthew Mahler at Sardine, Brooklyn NY
Queens International 2016 at the Queens Museum Queens, NY.
Condensed Matter Community, curated by Kristof Wickman and Evan Gruzis at Symchrotron Radiation Center, Madison WI.
An Englishman’s House is His Castle, curated by Ian Giles at Global Committee, Brooklyn NY.
Feeling of Dread, curated by Enough Room and John-Elio Reitman at Parisian Laundry, Montreal, QC.
Performing Objects, curated by Enough Room for Space Collective, Brussels BE.
Neon Eon at Kate Werble Gallery, New York, NY.
Break Out! curated by Benjamin Faust and Julian Elias Bronner at the Frederic de Goldschmidt Collection, Brussels, BE.
Three-Person Show at The Kitchen with Anna K.E. and Viola Yesiltac, curated by Lumi Tan, New York NY.
And Sometimes Gravity at Adds Donna, Chicago II.
Circles, curated by Marco Antonini at Elizabeth Foundation, New York, NY.
Material Art Fair, Regina Rex booth, Mexico City.
Table Setting, Jancar Jones Los Angeles, CA
Still Moving, curated by Recess Activities at The James Hotel. New York NY.
The Made-up Shrimp Hardly Enlightens Some Double Kisses, Laurel Gitlen Gallery, New York NY.
Body Style, curated by Alisa Baremboym at Bull and Ram, NY.
AWARDS AND RESIDENCIES
Queens Museum Studio Residency Program 2014
Vermont Studio Center Full Fellowship.
Dedalus Foundation Industry City Studio Residency recipient.
Recess Sessions Resident, New York, NY.
Recipient of Graduate Grant form Virginia Commonwealth University. $1500.
Alina Tenser and Melanie Mclain in Conversation, Queens Museum International 2016 Catalogue 2016.
Alina Tenser interviewed by Sara Roffino, The Third Rail, February 2016.
Alina Tenser by Rachel Valinsky, Bomb Magazine, September 2015.
Neon Eon, Art in America, June 2015.
No Entrance, No Exit, Art Forum, February 2015
No Entrance, No Exit, The Brooklyn Rail, February 2015
No Entrance, No Exit, The New Yorker, January 2015
Bill Jenkins and Alina Tenser, The Visualist, August 2013
Adjunct Faculty at Pratt Institute, Fashion Department Visiting Artist, Virginia Commonwealth University, Department of Sculputure + Extended Media. 2015 Guest Lecturer at Pratt Institute, Sculpture Department Visiting Artist at Pratt Institute, Sculpture Department.
Guest Lecturer at SVA, Department of Sculpture and Digital Media 2013.
Guest Lecturer for No Questions series at Cooper Union, Sculpture Department.