ASPECTS, FORMS, AND FIGURES
Curated by João Ribas & Becky Smith
134 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY 10011
February 8th-March 10th, 2007
Opening reception February 8, 6-8 pm
Stephen G. Rhodes
‘Aspects, Forms, and Figures’ looks to the archaic, noumenal, and totemic character of form. Rather than literal or phenomenological readings, it proposes aspects of form beyond phenomena yet present only in form itself.
Can form be a figure of the numinous, where objects of human labor are filled with a sense of immanence, of being wholly ‘other’? As Karl Marx writes in Capital:
The form of wood is altered if a table is made out of it. Nevertheless the table continues to be wood, an ordinary, sensuous thing, But as soon as it emerges as a commodity, it changes into a thing which transcends sensuousness. It not only stands with its feet on the ground, but, in relation to all other commodities, it stands on its head, and evolves out of its wooden brain grotesque ideas, far more wonderful than if it were to begin dancing of its own free will.
The roots of the “numinous” do not relate directly to magic, but to a realm of knowledge beyond the empirical: ineffable knowledge only partly manifested in visible or quantifiable phenomena. This aspect emerges through form, and only through form can it be apprehended or intoned, even if this “thing-in-itself” remains radically unknowable. It takes many guises, from atavistic and archaic forms (Christopher Deeton, John McCracken, Nathan Mabry), to the Kantian noumenon and the immanence to objects and places (Adelina Lopes, Anthony Pearson, Emily Sundblad), the 'dark matter' of the universe (Jonah Groeneboer, Jack Goldstein), ontology and metaphysics (Gordon Terry, Aaron Curry), commodity-form and reification (Carol Bove, Alice Könitz), dialectical materialism (Stephen G. Rhodes), and the philosophical concern with aesthetics.
Beyond a means to resist literal or phenomenological readings of form, what is revealed in this noumenal aspect is that meaning is a glimpse of ‘other’ knowledge, making the art object a sensuous thing both supra-sensible and social—even if anachronistic in a society that renders such metaphysics meaningless, not to mention useless.