Greene Naftali is pleased to announce The Fall Show by Gelitin, the Austrian collective’s second solo exhibition at the gallery following Blind Sculpture in 2010.
Known for performances, large-scale public works, and mixed-media installations, Gelitin collides a juvenile playfulness with vulgarity and abjection, engaging legacies such as Viennese Actionism, Relational Aesthetics, and the sculpture and performance works of Franz West. The use of participation and performance as generative mediums, a recurring motif in Gelitin's practice, foregrounds questions of authorship, material process, and conditions of objecthood within the realm of art. The new work presents the viewer with a field of unexpected surprises, activating the medium of performance in a striking way.
For The Fall Show, the collective dramatically reconfigured the gallery space, installing a labyrinthine wall with appendages abruptly invading the viewer’s path. Patches of color disrupt the freshly painted white walls of the construction, further upending the expected format of the gallery space. The assembly houses a vast and comical group of sculptures whose fate is contingent upon the viewer’s participation. In a particularly poignant iteration of Gelitin’s penchant for collaboration, the collective has created a terrain of materially vulnerable sculptures that, in one simple mechanical gesture by the viewer, are overturned and transformed.
The sculptures themselves combine earthy, distinctly recovered objects and vibrant, brightly colored elements with a comic flair. The viewer first enters the space to see an elegant yet uncanny sculpture – upon a curling fragment of old furniture hangs a worn bucket, the arrangement’s silhouette gracefully echoed on the gallery walls.
Using malleable materials and precarious construction, Gelitin has created a show that, upon installation, entrusts its fruition to the viewer’s agency. A plasticine bust with a clumsy smile, a wobbly tower of old black buckets accompanied by a threadbare flag, and a seatless chair constructed solely of rope, are all among the sculptures that await the audience’s intervention.
On the opening night of The Fall Show, the sculptures were put into the custody of the audience. As sculptures collapsed to the ground with slapstick drollness, viewers were arrested with reactions ranging from anxiety to excitement. The fallen, warped sculptures solicited a decision on the part of the viewer – one had to weigh whether to take on the responsibility of reassembling a work of art, or to leave a sculpture destroyed by his own action in pieces on the floor. A host of roles from dealer, to curator, to collector, were upset as highly attuned codes of behavior were rendered irrelevant. As the crowd built and the atmosphere of participation heightened, the show revealed its capacity and promise for transformation, as well as its ability to retrain the instincts of the viewer.
Gelitin’s spirit of inclusion and generosity is demonstrated with simultaneous conviction and irreverence in The Fall Show. Gelitin exhibits faith in chaos as a means of creation, and establishes an intimate exchange with the audience.