Alina Tenser





Since 2013 I have been nominated for the RHMF Emerging Artist Grant every year. In that span of four years I have had a chance to write about and reassess my most recent work and overarching practice.  Moving between sculpture, video and performance, I have been scratching at the same itch- to understand physical form as a transformative and manifold thing.  Dealing with primarily sculptural concerns such as form and dimension, I have attempted to complicate the physicality of objects by addressing them in time-based formats.  In my videos I divorce objects from scale, gravity, and materiality in order to get to a pure, idea-like state of the object. In my performance pieces, I activate the objects in order to show the movement, function, and affordance that characterize the objects.  Although these inquiries are formal, my practice is shaped by and reflective of personal autobiography and identity. Specifically formative are my experiences of being an immigrant- of observing, misunderstanding, reinterpreting, and the experience of becoming a mother, now eight years ago.  The latter has influenced the way I understand body, mass, dependency, and autonomy.  As my son has grown and developed, my new observations of play, transformation, and the open-ended creativity of childhood and parenthood have also come to be reflected in my work.

In March of this year I had a solo exhibition at Soloway Gallery, an artist run space in Brooklyn.  Titled Passing Buttons, the show was focused on the ingenuity of the form and function of buttons.  Initially thinking of them as abstract shapes (simple, discoid forms with two holes) I became enamored with the buttons ability to slip through spaces much too small, meanwhile, tenderly bringing together multiple layers and creating binds that are secure yet porous.  My exhibition focused around two large wooden buttons that stood erect, supported by motorcycle stands. Every week I activated the buttons with performance. When performing I introduced other objects such as pull down curtains and door stops that aided the choreography, movement, and balance of the buttons. I was interested in the notion of pauses and temporary locations. In using motorcycle stands and doorstops to balance the buttons I was asserting temporary pause in movement, one of parking rather then placing. In the back room of the gallery I projected a video baring the same title as the show, Passing Buttons.  In the video buttons steadily float across a seemingly flat background.  The screen saver-like flow is interrupted by buttons disappearing into unforeseen holes; sporadically, my index finger emerges like a hook to pluck them out of the foreground and into one of these holes. While the rest of the show has two states- one active, while the objects are being performed, and one inactive, or resting, while the objects are on display – the video is always on, like a steady pulse and promise of movement.

When I mention active and inactive states of objects I don’t mean to imply a lack of intensity in fixed objects on display. I feel that both states are relevant to understanding these objects. My 2015 performance, Selections from Sports Closet, features a folding room divider that, while “inactive”, fulfills an architectural role. When I perform with it, along with further exhausting the object’s architectural possibilities of being a wall, a room, a closet – I also interact with it like a body. I thus understand the divider on two levels – as something that bisects a room and as something that works with a body and has ability to conform to the body’s needs.  For me, performing with sculptural objects feels like an extension of making them – a complete way of knowing them.

This sentiment of wanting to know and understand an object in multiple ways extends to my videos as well. When making video work, I choreograph myself with objects I make, or buy and alter.  I use green screen techniques to isolate certain parts of the object as well as my body.  This method of working helps me move beyond certain sculptural limitations like scale and gravity, allowing for a more focused consideration of form and dimensionality. My 2015 video, Kismet Tutorial, features a torus (doughnut-shape object) constructed out of air duct piping and fabric. The form revolves into and out of itself. Mathematician and anthroposophist, Frank Chester, explains this to be a “karmic form” because it’s surface and body is in constant revolution. Like an orifice it has the capability of injecting or rejecting matter, which I demonstrate with ping pong balls.  In Kismet Tutorial, the motion and imagery oscillates between bodily and game-like implications. The physical display of the projection also points to a multiplicitous reality of form. This is characteristic of all my video work.  I project my videos on plexi-glass screens that are custom-made for each video. I position these standing or hanging in space, rather then on a wall, to point to their objecthood.  The sculptural emphasis on the projection screen is a final step to a somewhat convoluted progression- isolating the initial object by way of green screen, capturing and flattening it through video production, and projecting an image of it in space to reinstate its objecthood.

Although the majority of my practice and submitted portfolio is performance and video based I consider my interest and dedication to making work largely sculptural.  By using time-based methods to confront form I am hoping to complicate and further the experience beyond the sculptural brackets.


MFA Virginia Commonwealth University, Sculpture + Extended Media. Richmond, VA.

BFA School of the Visual Arts. New York, NY.


Select Awards and Residencies

2017  Emergency Grant from Foundation for Contemporary Arts

2016  Queens Museum Studio Program Residency

2014  Vermont Studio Center Full Fellowship

2013 Dedalus Foundation Industry City Studio Residency recipient.

2012 Recess Sessions Resident, New York, NY.

2012 Dedalus Foundation MF A Fellowship Recipient

2012 Recipient of Graduate Grant form Virginia Commonwealth University


Solo and Two-Person Exhibitions

2017 Bonded Warehouse, Alina Tenser and Chris Domenick at Helper Projects, Brooklyn, NY.

2017 Passing Buttons at Soloway Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2016 Something Bright, then Holes curated by Nichole Caruso at Interstate Projects, Brooklyn, NY

2015 Ultraviolet, Alina Tenser and Nathlie Provosty at Gallery Diet, Miami, Fl

2015 Edge Thin, solo show curated by Amber Esseiva at AIR Gallery, Brooklyn NY

2013 Hip Openers, Nurture Art, Brooklyn NY

2013 Alina Tenser and Bill Jenkins, The Suburban, Chicago IL

2013 Holistic Approach, Pioneer Works, Brooklyn NY


Select Group Exhibitions

2017  Invisible Hand curated by Nikita Vishevskiy at Knockdown Center, Brooklyn, NY.

2016 Space Oddity, curated by Matthew Mahler at Sardine, Brooklyn NY

2016 Queens International 2016 at the Queens Museum. Queens, NY

2015 Condensed Matter Community, curated by Kristof Wickman and Evan Gruzis at Synchrotron Radiation Center, Madison WI

2015 An Englishman’s House is His Castle, curated by Ian Giles at Global Committee, Brooklyn NY

2015 Feeling of Dread, curated by Woobie Bogus and John-Elio Reitman at Parisian Laundry, Montreal, QC

2015 Performing Objects, curated by Enough Room for Space Collective, Brussels BE

2015 Neon Eon at Kate Werble Gallery, New York, NY

2015 No Entrance, no Exit  at The Kitchen with Anna K. E. and Viola Yesiltac, curated by Lumi Tan. New York, NY

2015 Break Out! curated by Benjamin Faust and Julian Elias Bronner at the Frederic de Goldschmidt Collection, Brussels, BE

2015 And Sometimes Gravity at Adds Donna, Chicago, Il

2014 Circles, curated by Marco Antonini at Elizabeth Foundation, New York, NY

2014 Material Art Fair, Regina Rex booth, Mexico City

2013 Table Setting, Jancar Jones Los Angeles, CA

2013 Still Moving, curated by Recess Activities at The James Hotel. New York, NY

2013 The Made-up Shrimp Hardly Enlightens Some Double Kisses, Laurel Gitlen Gallery, New York, NY

2013 Body Style, curated by Alisa Baremboym at Bull and Ram, NY


Select Performances

2016 Beveling the Grid collaborative performance with Chris Domenick at MoMa, curated by Recess Activities

2016 Selection From Sports Closet, Queens Museum, Queens, NY

2016 Coriolis, collaborative performance with Chris Domenick at Fylkingen, Stockholm, SWE

2016 Transaction Stall, Global Committee, Brooklyn, NY

2015 Selections From Sports Closet, Kate Werble Gallery, New York, NY

2015 Selecetions from Sports Closet, NADA New York, NY, New York

2015 Vegetable be Soap! at JTT, New York, NY

2015 Selections From Sports Closet at NADA New York, NY

2015 Selections From Sports Closet at Kate Werble Gallery, New York NY

2014 Vegetable be Soap! at Essex Flowers, New York, NY.



Alina Tenser at Soloway Gallery by Juliet Helmke, Modern Painters, May 2017

Alina Tenser at Soloway, “Goings on Around Town” The New Yorker Magazine, April 2017

Fresh Geometry: Gary Stephan and Alina Tenser, by John Yau, Hyperallergic, March 2016

Earnest Humor, Alina Tenser interviewed by Sara Roffino, The Third Rail, Ferbruary 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