Jonah Groeneboer

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What is my work about?

I am an interdisciplinary artist working within the aesthetics of post-minimalism and abstraction as a way to engage with the relational systems of form and meaning. In my work, the abstract formal gesture is used to pose new spatial models to replace outmoded binary concepts. I use forces such as tension and gravity structurally and light and time as material. In these works, motion, stillness, material presence and absence co-occur, addressing questions of perception, position, proximity, and orientation and reveal states that dichotomous systems exclude.


Artist Statement

I am an interdisciplinary artist working in sculpture, installation, drawing, video and photo. The theoretical foundations of my work are situated in new materialism, non-universal phenomenology, queer studies, and my experience as a queer and transgender person.

Natural light has been an active element in my installations and video work. This has developed into an exploration of light waves as material, specifically through diffraction and interference behavior, which exists in sound wave patterns as well. I am particularly invested in new materialist, feminist, and physicist Karen Barad’s model of diffraction and superposition as an alternative to reflexivity.

In November 2015, I will present thirteen sets of paintings and photographs and two years of research in a solo show at Platform Centre for Photographic and Digital Arts in Winnipeg, MB. This project is titled Blue Shift, after the optical phenomena of viewing under moonlight conditions. Blue shift refers to the monochromatic blue tint that can be observed under moonlight, once one’s eyes have adapted to the dark. For the past two years, I have been conducting research on retinal behavior under moonlight and how color perception is effected by shifting light conditions (from full sun, dusk, moonlight and dawn).

Blue Shift is comprised of thirteen color paintings abutting moonlight-exposed black and white photos of the paintings. Based on my research, I have chosen colors that differ under sunlight but have an identical tone, so that under moonlight these two-color paintings become monotone. The black and white photos of the color paintings reproduce an experience of human perception that doesn’t occur in the mechanics of the camera. The complications that arise out of this project give way to questions about how we represent problems of seeing, perception, sameness, and difference.

Also this Fall 2015, I will develop and present a project, titled Double Mouth Feedback, as part of Recess Sessions in NYC. In Double Mouth Feedback, I will ask “What material effects do the vibrations of our voices have?” Collectively, I want to re-imagine gender systems using vocal sound production. I will host recording sessions throughout the two month term of my residency at Recess. The sound material will be recorded through a combination of individual and group sessions. Vocalizations unattached to language will be encouraged, and there will be prompts: vocalize/make the sound of your gender, vocalize/make a sound that will help break down gender confines, vocalize/make a sound that will build a new gender structure, make sounds that you are not supposed to make in public space.

The overall project will result in a multi-channel sound installation, created in collaboration with electronic composer Bruno Coviello.  Structurally, I am interested in working with the material aspects of sound, the frequencies and wave patterns of the vocal recordings, interference phenomena in sound (one result of which is phaseouts), and using vocal superposition to weave together sound waves as a way of imagining new gender models. No effects will be used; these sounds will be altered only through interaction with frequencies and vibrations of other vocals in the final installation. Each speaker will play different sounds and frequencies, creating a chorus, a conversation, a meeting of cacophony and euphony. This is the second sound piece that I have made in collaboration with Bruno Coviello; the first was also a multi-channel sound installation, titled Salt | Fire, which was presented at the Galveston Artist Residency exhibition space in 2013. Two other works from that show, Sun Column and SUN/MIRROR, are related to projects that I am currently working on.

Sun Column is a thread sculpture that hangs from the ceiling to the floor using gravity and tension as structural support. This work exists in varying states of visibility: it is almost undetectable until the sun enters the space and lights the sculpture, at which point it becomes the brightest and most present work in the room.

Concurrently, over the past three years, I have been developing a body of work consisting of twenty human scale abstract sculptures. Though these works do not use natural light, they relate to Sun Column materially and formally. These works also hang from the ceiling to the floor using gravity and tension as structural support. They are not permanently fixed in a singular form, though they are arranged into an exact and specific placement. They resist stasis, appearing to change form as the viewer changes position; a plane curves from one angle of sight but remains straight from another. In the summer of 2014, I was given the opportunity to further develop this body of work as resident at the Fire Island Artist Residency. These human scale sculptures have been written about by David Getsy in “Queer Formalisms: Jennifer Doyle and David Getsy in Conversation,” which was published in Art Journal  (Winter 2013) and in “Appearing Differently: Abstraction’s Transgender and Queer Capacities, an interview with David Getsy,” by William Simmons.

In November 2015, I will show two pieces as a part of a group show at the Contemporary Art Museum Houston. Codex,  a four hour video loop,  further develops ideas in the aforementioned earlier piece, SUN/MIRROR, in which a single-shot recording captures the movements of passing sunlight across an arrangement of mirrors, causing  geometric patterns of light and shadow to shift. In both these pieces, time becomes visible through the passage of light. In Codex, the composition shifts over time as degrees of transparency, opacity, contrast and depth are effected by the sunlight interacting with a sculptural arrangement. I began working on concepts that connect light and sound waves, knowledge, dialogue and interpretation using iridescence, a form of diffraction in Surface Notes a text piece included in this application as an audio recording. Codex furthers this work visually, using the shifting states of transparency and opacity to consider light, mediation, and interpretation.

Alongside Codex, I will also be presenting a grid of 25 photographs, all from 2015. In these works, rolls of film are exposed multiple times. Once exposed, the film is rewound and each re-exposure reveals the boundaries of the negative frame from the previous exposure. The negative frame is made visible as a series horizontal bars. The frame slips from its usual place as a container for the image, and becomes a visible and active element in the compositions; time flow is disrupted and collapsed.  Throughout, the displaced negative boundary appears, asserting the framing device as an active element in an interpretive encounter with a subject.

Often in my sculptural works, there is the possibility of shift inherent in the structure and materials, paired with exacting arrangement. These works appear differently from multiple perspectives. In my video work,  from the singular perspective of the camera, shifts occur over time through interaction with light. In my flat works, the limits of seeing and framing are pushed, to make visible and implicate those acts as a material part of encounter. By indicating the instability of perception through these different mediums, I navigate complexities of interpretation and representation and imagine new, more inclusive possibilities.


2007 MFA, New York University, New York, NY

2005 BFA, Intermedia, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, OR


September/October – Double Mouth Feedback, Recess, New York, NY. Solo.
November – Blue Shift, Platform Center for Photographic and Digital Arts, Winnipeg, MB. Solo.
November – Group show, Title TBD,  Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Houston, TX

Shandaken Project Retrospective Exhibition, New York, NY

The Dislocated Center of the Material World, Galveston Art Residency, Galveston, TX. Solo.
Small Works for a Big Change SRLP Jack Studios, New York, NY. Benefit.

UP ON, mover in Gordon Hall’s sculpture and performance, Sculpture Center, 2012
B-OUT, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
Herstory Inventory. 100 Feminist Drawings by 100 Artists, Brooklyn Museum, NY
Herstory Inventory. 100 Feminist Drawings by 100 Artists, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria

Pretty Vacant, Collective Projects, Brooklyn, NY
Resurrection, Cinders Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
A Certain Ratio, Roots & Culture, Chicago, IL.

The Every Other Day, Ideobox Artspace, Miami, FL.
Material/Immaterial, Shoshawna Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, CA.
Lost Horizon, EXILE Ausstellungraum, Berlin, Germany.
Ox-Bow Centennial Show, Roots and Culture, Chicago, IL.

Evading Customs, Brown Gallery, London, England.
Drawing Gifts, The Drawing Center Benefit, New York, NY. Benefit.
The Noble Savage and the Little Tramp, Mount Tremper Arts, NY.
DiSoRgAnIzEd, Museum 52, New York, NY.
Works on Paper, Bellwether, New York, NY.

Sonata for Executioner and Various Young Women, André Schlechtriem, New York, NY.
K48 (Installation), Torpedo Kunstbokhandelen, Oslo, Norway.
New Black, Triple Canopy, Starr Space, Brooklyn, NY.
O Canada, MC Gallery, New York, NY.
K48, John Connelly Presents, New York, NY.
If I told you you were beautiful, Oliver Kamm, New York, NY.
The Measure, Bellwether Gallery, New York, NY. Solo.

Beginnings, Why and Wherefore. Curitorial Website Project by Summer Guthery, Lumi Tan and Nicholas Weist.
Small Works for a Big Change SRLP Sara Meltzer Gallery, New York, NY. Benefit.
All is Well That Begins Well and Has No End, 80WSE Gallery, New York, NY.
07/08, Bellwether Gallery, New York, NY.
Look Away, Cynthia Broan Gallery, New York, NY. Curated by Jon Torreano and Michael St James.
Inter-Dimensional Mirror, The Armory Show, Bellwether, New York, NY.
Aspects, Forms, and Figures. Bellwether, New York, NY. Curated by Joao Ribas and Becky Smith.

Recess Sessions, New York, NY. 2015.
FIAR, Fire Island Artist residency, Fire Island, NY. 2014
Visiting Artist, Shandaken Artist Residency, Shandaken, NY. 2014
Galveston Artist Residency, Galveston, TX. 2013
Artist in Residence, Ox-Bow, Saugatauk, MI 2008

“Appearing Differently: Abstraction’s Transgender and Queer Capacities, an interview with David Getsy,” William Simmons, interviewer, in Dietmar Schwärzler, et al., eds., Pink Labour on Golden Streets: When Form Becomes Politics (Vienna: Schriftenreihe of the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, and Sternberg Press, forthcoming  fall 2015).

“The Unforeclosed,” David J. Getsy, Flex catalogue essay.

“Queer Formalisms: Jennifer Doyle and David Getsy in Conversation,” Art Journal 72.4 (Winter 2013)
Thacker, Eugene. “Black on Black.” Mute Magazine. MetaMute, 17 July 2013. Web. <>.

Martha Schwendener: Collaborative and Solo, With a Certain Feminist Bent. The New York Times, September 7, 2012.

Fitzgerald, Ali. “Lives and Works in Berlin: Head Shop / Lost Horizon at Exile.” Art 21 Blog. Art 21, 02 September 2010. Web.<>.

Scott, Andrea, “Jonah Groeneboer,” The New Yorker, Feb 4, 2008, p. 12.
Rosenberg, Karen, “Jonah Groeneboer, The Measure” The New York Times, Feb 1, 2008. p. E35
Willse, Craig, “Craig Willse talks to Jonah Groeneboer,” NY Arts Magazine, Jan 2008, Vol. 13, No. 1/2, p.36
Weist, Nicholas, “A Look at Jonah Groeneboer,”  ARTslant, Jan 8, 2008.

Cotter, Holland, “Art in Review: Aspects, Forms and Figures,” The New York Times, March 2, 2007.


Jonah Groeneboer, Sayeed Jones, and Shelley Marlow, Adult Contemporary Reading Series, New York, NY.

Herstory Inventory Panel Paricipant, The New York Public Library, New York, NY.

4 x 4: Four Contemporary Artists, Four Approaches to Drawing, The Drawing Center, New York, NY

# Class Collecting Panel Participant, Winkleman Gallery, New York, NY. 2009

Visiting Artist Lecture, Senior Studio Class, New York University, New York, NY.