Andy Slemenda

Return to Artist List

 

 

 

What is my artwork about?

My work considers the body as an environment that encompasses and extends beyond the human form. With organic and ready-made materials, I realize this view of the body, conceiving new anatomies. My drawings and assemblages are the interiors of this environmental body. These flesh-like sheets of paper incorporate complex networks of textures and objects. In contrast, my installations and sculptures exteriorize the body through site and ephemera. These works theatrically unfold, allowing ephemeral materials and impromptu scenarios to transform spaces into larger, evolving systems. Essentially, my practice pursues materials as worlds and the world as material.

Artist Statement

All phenomena are real in some sense,
Unreal in some sense,
Meaningless in some sense,
Real and meaningless in some sense,
Unreal and meaningless in some sense
And real and unreal and meaningless in some sense.

My work confronts our desire to ‘make sense’ of this world.
We interpret this world through systems of knowledge, such as History, Science and Religion. Within these structures, we assign order to disorder and imbue meaning at the safest coordinates. I am interested in the structures, materials and narratives that frame our conception of reality. My work reimagines these systems, creating new amorphous cosmologies.

In my installation, Assp (Image 9), stacked aluminum planters, Marseilles soap, a sphagnum moss pole, pink toilet paper and papyrus becomes a crude obelisk. A cryptic looped video displays reversed text, only legible in the opposite facing mirror. Inspired by the Egyptian motifs of the Parisian cityscape, Assp seeks a common language of mortality and transcendence between the contemporary and the ancient.

My practice centers on this chimeric use of material to form its own mythic narratives. By complicating familiar consumerist materials with organic elements, the works undulate between the subjective and the objective, displacing their systemic categories and forging new, monstrous symbols.

In my piece, With Her One Hundred Locks and One Hundred Ears (Image 4), titled after theorist, Hélène Cixous, a skin-like sheet of handmade paper becomes the vehicle for a collection of relics. Embellished with abalone veneer, snake sheddings and a plastic shower cap, the piece forms its own mythic Medusa.

In these material narratives, my works take on characters who themselves embody the quest for some absolute truth.  Drawing from philosophers, scientists, shamans and religious fanatics, these avatars lay the foundation for my work.

For Mrs. Snookes or Tufmutton (Images 10-12), carved blue foam becomes an icy grotto and molasses placed on the gallery windows, resembles stained glass, as the sun illuminates the syrupy caricature. Named for the purported charlatan, mystic and founder of Theosophy, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Mrs. Snookes or Tufmutton becomes a theatrical event where materials perform, shifting and morphing throughout the exhibition.

This entire body of work represents two approaches developing in my process.
One approach is the narrative-driven sculptures and installations, represented in works such as Fawcet in the Burning Bed (Image 1). These works generate a dialog between site, material and experience. The second approach is through drawing, video and assemblage, which do not serve as models or sketches for larger works, but condense their complexities.

Most recently, I have focused on the latter, creating a new series of decoupage works on paper (Images 2 & 3) and small sculptures (Images 5 & 6). These works specifically deal with the physicality of the body in an array of materials. In Untitled (For Mr. Schrenk-Notzing) (Image 5), a plaster-filled, camouflage balloon struggles to hold its inflated form. Adorned with a dried, deflated clutch of snake eggshells, the two objects unite in their shared states of nullity. Once containing life, they are now perpetually frozen in their fecundity. They show a relationship with the artificial and organic, the ‘created’ and what lives within and beyond our own bodies.

I have also developed my installation-based work. In conjunction with the 13th Istanbul Biennial, I participated in The Story of HAYY, a travelling residency program, created by the artist collective, Nüans Nüans. In residence, artists explore the ancient Arabic text, Hayy ibn Yaqdhan and its central character, Hayy.

The One Thousand Year Old Rock and Roll Band (Images 16-18) was my contribution to this project, a site-specific installation of calligraphic wall drawings, text and performance. On a rooftop in Istanbul’s Tophane district, I interpreted the character, Hayy, through the lens of Timothy Leary’s visit to Morocco, following other Western eccentrics such as William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin. Exhibited during the first biennial since the Gezi Park protests, my experience in Turkey was uniquely colored by the artistic community responding to the Gezi tragedy. For these reasons, I asked Cypriot designer, Batu Palmer, to perform a Turkish translation of Leary’s writing, as a treatise between East and West.

That experience has pushed my practice toward more inclusive and experimental forms. Since focusing on video, small sculpture and works on paper, I now want to expand those concepts into new installations in New York and nationally, with a forthcoming solo project in Galveston, Texas. At the Galveston Artist Residency Program, I will explore Buckminster Fuller’s preeminent writings on architecture and sustainability. For this new work, entitled Blood of the Air,”, I will elaborate on the body’s relationship to ecology. This work and future works will reflect upon humanity’s role within a greater unified system. As Fuller did, I will consider if we are destined for utopia or oblivion.

 

CV

EDUCATION

– New York University , Master of Fine Arts, 2009-2011

– D.A.A.D. Workshop with Trisha Donnelly, 2010

– Allegheny College , Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laudé, 2005-2009

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

-Blood of the Air (Forthcoming), Galveston Artist Residency, TX, 2016

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

– Survival, University of Toronto, Centre for Comparative Literature, Canada, 2015
Philosophy conference exhibition curated by Keegan Goodman

– Half-Baked Antithesis, Plus 81 Gallery, New York, NY, 2014
Curated by Taro Masushio

– HAYY – A Self-Taught Musical , Düsseldorf, Germany, 2014
Performance exhibition choreographed by artist, Rita Mcbride

– The Story of HAYY , Istanbul, Turkey, 2013
Exhibited in conjunction with the 13th Istanbul Biennial

– Friendly Gestures {NAMASTE} , CUNY Queens College, NY, 2013

– I Second the Emotion , TAON, Ivry-sur-Seine, France, 2012
Curated by Joey Tang of Palais de Tokyo and The Notary Public

– O Furtuna , Paris, Düsseldorf, Berlin and New York, 2012
Traveling exhibition curated by Jessica Gispert and Laurent Pellissier

– Bruni-Sarkozy Fellows’ Exhibition , Nikki Diana Marquardt Gallery, Paris, France, 2011

AWARDS & PRIZES

-Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Foundation Grant , 2011-2012

RESIDENCIES & FELLOWSHIPS

– The Story of Hayy , Hosted by Nüans Nüans, Istanbul, Turkey, September 2013

– Villa Arson , Nice, France, April 2012

– Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Foundation Fellowship , Paris, France, 2011-2012

BIBLIOGRAPHY

-Diet of Worms, On Reading Walter Benjamin as Pure Medium , 2011
By Viola Kolarov, Art US Magazine, Issue 30

-NYU Steinhardt MFA Thesis Exhibition , 80WSE Exhibition Catalogue, 2011

ACADEMIC WORK EXPERIENCE

– Panthéon-Sorbonne Université 1 , Fine Arts Fellow, Paris, France, 2011-2012

– New York University , Steinhardt, Adjunct faculty, 2009-2011

– Hélène Cixous Conference , La Maison Française, New York, NY, 2010
Panel discussion with Avital Ronell, Marlene McCarty and Kathe Burkhart