Ashkin exhibits at Vienna’s Secession

November 20, 2009

Vienna — Associate Professor of art Michael Ashkin's solo exhibition opened today in Secession's Galerie, in Vienna. The exhibition features video work and a series of sculptures made of recycled cardboard representing proliferating settlements, designs for public squares, and prison architectures.

In the large-scale work Untitled (where each new sunrise promises only the continuation of yesterday), ... (2009) tailored to fill the Galerie space, Ashkin explores the logic of urban spatial organization between social ideals, structural necessities, and uncontrollable contingencies. The sculptural installation consists of a sprawling, seemingly random accumulation of simple houses, huts, and sheds. Rather than revealing a sense of town planning, the way the detailed architectural miniatures are arranged looks unintentional, temporary, and characterized by an absence of community. As such, it refers to the explosive expansion of urban spaces and to the related dynamics of appropriating terrain and participatory architecture.

Like Ashkin's other sculptures, Untitled (where each new sunrise promises only the continuation of yesterday), ... is based on abstractions from aerial photos and finished buildings, possessing no specific identity in space-time. The distancing from reality inherent in any model is amplified by the monochrome material and the predefined perspectives of the plan and elevation views. The viewer's gaze is lost in the remoteness of the horizon.

This presentation of the sculpture as a site for thinking about space has a counterpart in the video work Here (2009). In terms both concrete and metaphorical, it deals with the desert as a habitat, a threat, but also as a spiritual experience. By creating an interplay between the poetic, rhythmic text spoken by a voice-over and the visual representation of an empty interior, it becomes a space for projections in a double sense.

Ashkin will give the artist talk, "In the Meantime," on November 20 at 3 p.m. in the Studio Building of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. The talk is cosponsored by Secession and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

The exhibition is up until January 24, 2010.

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