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September 25 - November 28, 1999John Andrews, Piot Brehmer, Jacob El Hanani
Simon Frost, Amanda Guest, Robert Jack,
Marco Maggi, John Morris, Ragna Róbertsdóttir
No pretext, no effect, no message: microwave doesn't strive to classify a new movement. However, it identifies an international group composed of artists who deliberately reduce their movements and expressive media. Among them: John Andrews (US) Piot Brehmer (Germany), Jacob El Hanani (Morocco, US), Simon Frost (England), Amanda Guest (England, US), Robert Jack (US), Marco Maggi, (Uruguay), John Morris (US) and Ragna Róbertsdóttir (Iceland).
These artists imperceptibly move their fingertips to create works of precision and minimal displacement in a quasi-monochromatic context: syntheses and syntactics that recall the reductionism of genetic maps or binary codes.
The most direct and tactile version of the digital era is based on displacements of imperceptible scale. But, this intimacy doesn't require mouse or keyboard, it is a dialogue of fingertips: art positively digital. A meticulous discipline of the close-up at the antipodes of the instantaneous and the remote control. The exhibition attempts to recognize a movement where there is hardly any movement.
Fast visual impact is substituted by the hypnotic effect of patience. These labor intensive works bring a state of intense concentration. Close attention is given to the execution, a concentration on the production process itself.
Jacob El Hanani, Simon Frost, Robert Jack, Marco Maggi and John Morris bring drawing to the extreme, as a sort of 'maximalism': "I could say that minimalism gave birth to the micro as a sort of maximalism: how far, how small, how complex can you draw only using the tip of your fingers?" says Jacob El Hanani. He started his first overall micro-drawings in 1972, in reaction to conceptual and minimal art.
microwave is as an exhibition of 'slow art', as opposed to 'fast food'. We are witnessing a global movement of miniaturization: smaller appliances and faster communication: lap-tops, cell-phones, microwaves.... In the 'palm-era' micro-art is responding to this evolution by imposing deceleration and focus: short-sightedness as the best answer to globalization.
Scale remains a central issue but the works in microwave are not about miniature - small work on a small scale. The scale can be enlarged but the marks remain micro: Ragna Róbertsdóttir makes large lava-scapes out of small pumice stones that she glues directly on the gallery wall; Marco Maggi engraves 5x8 feet Celotex insulation panels; Amanda Guest bangs brads into a sheet rock wall up to the ceiling; John Andrews paints imperceptible grids on large aluminum panels.
Piot Brehmer's Landung paintings stretch the instant just before a plane is touching ground at night. The viewer/passenger needs to position himself on the threshold of blindness in order to focus on the airport light dots in motion. As soon as the viewer reduces speed and operates a shift in his spatial awareness, the blind spot becomes a viewpoint from which he can capture the entire work afar, or penetrate the density of the infinite proliferations from close.
A heat wave warms up the eye to navigate through the maze of limitless variations of textures, structures and micrographs. Reading and seeing are linked to the oscillation of the images between touch and sign, between text, textile and textures. Drawing moves on the frontier of semiotics. Most of the works in microwave stand at the borderline between drawing, knitting and writing. The obsessive repetition of the micro gesture indicates that a drawing signifies itself before signifying anything. "Writing has nothing to do with signifying. It has to do with surveying, mapping, even realms that are yet to come"1 The insignificant waves inaugurate a durable vertigo.