Joshua Minkus

This starts with guts, with a few pop science articles on gut bacteria, and a conversation I had with a friend with Crohn’s c. 2013  about the FDA’s then strictly scatophobic policies against what were proving the radically effective potentials of fecal transplants. This lead me to think about different kinds of knowledge, body knowledge, or a collaborative knowing, asking to what extent are a body’s directives not just synaptic firings but a collaborative impulse we and our guts’ inhabitants collectively foster under the guise of the autonomous individual? And if one’s feces can be the medium between microbiomes, the bacterial medicine for another, what else is eligible for redefinition?

Recent works organize around these themes, in particular Disagreeable Body, a diagram depicting the digestive organs composed out of silicone and various grains and spices – paprika, cilantro, oats, turmeric, coriander. The piece details emotional states, proclivities, consumer goods, anxieties, and vices associated with each organ, and loosely derives from the five element theory practiced in traditional Chinese medicine. The work images the guts as a space of poetic potential and plays on a “body politic” and the idea of the interior as a commons – a space shared and contested.

This binary of inside/outside, and how easily it breaks down, is a recurrent theme. Crosscuts appear throughout the work, as a base strategy of construction, but also the cut as a means of revealing what’s beyond a boundary of skin (human or otherwise, as in the work Microcomputer Accessories Inc.).

Disagreeable Body is juxtaposed with a text piece quoted from the diary of Cotton Mather (dated July, 1700). Mather was a respected minister in Boston and a key instigator of the Salem witch trials, disseminating pamphlets that sought to make credible the claims of witchcraft. In the excerpted text he describes urinating against a wall when a dog comes up beside him and does so too. The circumstance humiliates him and he determines (in a sculptural turn) that whenever he empties himself, to think on some “sensible Object” as a “Tincture of Piety” to be brought back into the grace of God. Here we see bodily disgust made instrument of social control, and the ways in which the sublimating of animality is built into American notions of morality, rationalism, and liberty.

Throughout my work is the idea of the object in aggregate – constituent parts making up a whole, and with clear political dimensions, as with Total Design (Insect Hotel). Insect Hotels are human constructions meant to provide habitat for beneficial insects, pollinators like solitary bees and wasps, especially in those areas where habitat is disappearing. But the houses often create population sinks – when birth rate outnumbers death rate, in part because of population concentration. This is especially due to the aestheticizing and anthropomorphic projection that we can detect in the “hotel” of its name – like thatched roofs that don’t sufficiently protect larva from moisture, or too great a density of holes, creating optical effect but all sorts of problems for insect inhabitants.

I was struck by the problems of insect architecture mirroring the problems of human architecture – of the tendency of such condo-like structures, however well-meaning, to impose paternalistic conditions upon the population the structures are meant to serve, and out of those imposed conditions unforeseen problems emerging. The “total design” of its title refers to the Total Architecture paradigms of Walter Gropius or Le Corbusier and the notion that a city’s organization is best orchestrated around a central design, as corrective to a typical city’s messy pluralism and heterogeneity.

This brings me to the piece Greeblescape. In model making, greebles are the details added to the surface of a model to make it appear more complex and visually interesting, and often with the impression of increased scale. Details tend to be made out of simple geometric primitives – cubes, cones, cylinders. The term was first used by the team that made the models for Star Wars to describe an approach that they also characterized as “guts on the outside.” Greeble is now part of sci-fi model making argot and applies to computer generated modeling, with various plugins that will automatically “greeble” a form. In this case, the work was made from containers of objects filled with urethane and then sliced (again deploying the cross cut), refracting cubic form into greebled surface.

This surface detail that signs material history and complexity becomes its own metaphor of abundance and misdirection. Much of my work alludes to the informational, the accidents of meaning that result when assembling things into an order. I take particular interest in the near accidental appearance of emotion within systems that seem to refuse human feeling. Recent sculptures all organize into a group, with recurring dimensions and formal repetitions, while each is composed of smaller units. This telescoping view of a part’s relation to a whole, and the flimsiness of the unitary, is where the work hopefully extends into questions of I in my relation to you and what this means towards the construction of a we.

 

 

Education

2019    MFA, Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts, New Brunswick, NJ

2011    BFA, Columbia College, Chicago, IL

2007    The Marchutz School, Aix-en-Provence, France

 

Solo and Two Person Exhibitions

2018    Soon, The Middler, Brooklyn, NY

2017    Causes, Low Rence, San Francisco, CA

2016    Spalt Spelt Spelter, Species, Atlanta, GA

Lipe, Right Window, San Francisco, CA

Pied-à-terre, Ottsville, PA

2014    Dilbert’s Moon, Important Projects, Oakland, CA

2012    Popular Standard, with Mary Helena Clark, Cleopatra’s, Brooklyn, NY

By Deputy, with Young Joon Kwak, Happy Dog, Chicago, IL

2011    Wrong Domino, Plaines Project, Chicago, IL
Pougialis Award Exhibition, with Davida Newman, A+D Gallery, Chicago, IL

 

Group Exhibitions

2019    1599fdT, San Francisco, CA

Like A Day, Rutgers in NY, 21 Ludlow, New York, NY

All Conditions, Rutgers Thesis Exhibition, Mason Gross Galleries, New Brunswick, NJ

2017    From Error of Nature, Monsters and Sport, Rutgers Gardens, New Brunswick, NJ
Archipelago Mixtape, Hordaland Kunstsenter, Bergen, Norway

2016    Peachtree Industrial, curated by Species, Bodega, New York, NY

2000, Sydney, Sydney, Australia

2015    By the Bearer in Whose Name it is Issued, curated by Quintessa Matranga, Centre for Style,

Melbourne, Australia

Tear Inferno, curated by Et al., Land & Sea, Oakland, CA

Ajax Hex, curated by Elliott Cost, Point Pinole, Richmond, CA

Conversation Pieces, City Limits, Oakland, CA

Nitro Trail, curated by Elliott Cost, Point Pinole, Richmond, CA

2013    Public Exercise, 1038, San Francisco, CA

Forever & Always, Chicago, IL

2011    Hokin Honors Exhibition, C33 Gallery, Chicago, IL

 

Awards

2012    Community Arts Assistance Program Cultural Grant, Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture

2011    Albert P. Weisman Award, Columbia College Chicago

 

Publications

2019    The Daily Stress, poem in newspaper published by Esther Sibiude

Mirage/Period[ical], poem in zine edited by Dodie Bellamy & Kevin Killian, April, published by The Wattis Institute (https://wattis.org/view?id=633)

2017    Pied-à-terre, essay (pied-terre.com)

No Spitting in the Garden, MARTHA Magazine, poem (m-a-r-t-h-a.com)

2015    st. remembory, Auto Generated Email Directory (age.directory)

6th SENSE, poem in exhibition pamphlet, MINIBAR, Stockholm, Sweden

2014    Monsters and Dust, 3 Poems (monstersanddust.com)

 

Performances, Readings, Talks

2018    Quantum Gossip, reading organized by Colleen Billing, Motel, Brooklyn, NY

Soon, performance ft. Nick Grasso, Millie Kapp, Sydney Shen, The Middler, Brooklyn NY

Performance, LIPS Festival, curated by Christhian Diaz & Aki Sasamoto, Piscataway, NJ

2015    Toy Town, reading organized by Kevin Killian, Alley Cat Books, San Francisco, CA

night, reading organized by Arash Fayez, 3295 20th Street, San Francisco, CA

Reading organized by Quintessa Matranga, Mission Comics, San Francisco, CA

2014    Dilbert’s Moon, performance, Important Projects, Oakland, CA

Artist talk, Real Time & Space, Oakland, CA

 

Curatorial

2016    Sessile, Giulia Cenci, Rand Hardy, Eva Löfdahl, K.r.m. Mooney, & Nick Raffel, Clifford Gallery at Colgate University, Hamilton, NY

2015    As Is Is, film program curated with Mary Helena Clark, Altman Siegel, San Francisco, CA

 

Press

2016    “Josh Minkus at Species,” AQNB, August 19

“2000 at Sydney,” Contemporary Art Daily, July 3

2015    “City Limits, Conversations Pieces,” Curiously Direct, June 2

2012    “Review: Young Joon Kwak and Josh Minkus,” Newcity, July 17