Tag Archives: terrazzo

Ficus Interfaith

 

 

 

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Ficus Interfaith is a collaboration between Ryan Bush (b. 1990, Denver, CO) and Raphael Martinez Cohen (b. 1989, New York, NY). The artists, who live in New York City, met at the Rhode Island School of Design and have been working together since 2013. Ficus Interfaith were recent artists in residence at 2727 California Street (Berkeley, CA) and Shandaken: Storm King (New Windsor, NY). Their work has been exhibited at Kai Matsumiya (New York, NY), From the Desk of Lucy Bull, (Los Angeles, CA), Interstate Projects (Brooklyn, NY), Prairie (Chicago, IL) and they were participating artists for Clay Club 2018 at SculptureCenter (Queens, New York) and NOSCHOOL in Far Rockaway, NY and Berkeley, CA.

 

Rubus Armeniacus (Himalayan blackberry)

“Rubus Armeniacus is an exemplary political decoration, a nutritious ornament that clandestinely modifies infrastructural morphology. Here, affect invades the center. Rubus inverts and puns upon the proprietous subordination of affective expenditure to intelligence. Tracing a mortal palimpsest of potential surfaces in acutely compromised situations, Rubus shows us how to invent. This is the serious calling of style.”

– Office for Soft Architecture, Rubus Armeniacus: A Common Architectural Motif in the Temperate Mesophytic Region (Cabinet Magazine, Issue 6 Horticulture, Spring 2002)

 

Decoration is a poetic and political force. Though the Arts and Crafts movement advocated for decoration’s importance, the decorative arts succumbed to society’s shift towards machine production and division of labor. The result was the chastening of decorative arts into “design” – a cultural form that became inextricably linked with the growth of capitalism. Modernism’s disavowal of ornamentation engendered a negative relationship between Western architecture and anything that could be thought of as “decorative”. Recently, decoration has been somewhat rehabilitated as a concept in art and architecture, but it remains politically fraught.

To decorate one’s home is an artistic practice, but it is always situated in the economy and the pursuit of exchange value. Interior decorating displays one’s taste and style through the collection and curation of objects and furnishings. The formal focus of Modernist discourse often obscured hidden layers of social and economic determinants, but decoration always has some political content. Through consumer culture, home decoration posits the inhabitant within the field of social capital as a means to justify materialism. It is not a mere visual spectacle. It is also a mechanism that reinforces and disseminates the encoding of socio-political structures, and thus reifies capitalist ideologies. Decoration facilitates and reproduces privileges and class status and with that, exclusion.

Today, the domestic environment can be considered one of the primary sites where radical change is taking place in everyday life. We exist in a moment in which we are able to reassess the line between leisure and labor. Like many activities today, decorating is both pastime and work. It’s a hobby that makes home life more pleasurable, while at the same time adding to the value of one’s financial and social capital, bolstering the overall value of the home.

Rubus Armeniacus (Himalayan blackberry) presents works by nine artists and architects. The works offer ways to understand the rapid social, economic, and environmental shifts our increasingly neoliberal society is undergoing today, and attempts to unpack the implications of decoration as a carrier of both personal and political meaning.

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Featuring works by Denise Scott Brown (b. 1931, Nkana, Zambia), Milano Chow (b. 1987, Los Angeles, CA), Samuel Farrier (b. 1989, Woodland, CA), Ficus Interfaith (Ryan Bush, b. 1990, Denver, CO and Raphael Martinez-Cohen, b. 1989, New York, NY), Nora Maité Nieves (b. 1980, San Juan, PR), Kayode Ojo (b. 1990, Cookeville, TN), Sean Raspet (b. 1981, Washington, DC), Libby Rothfeld (b. 1990, New Brunswick, NJ), and Allan Wexler (b. 1949, Bridgeport, CT)

Curated by Jessica Kwok

 

Jessica’s Apartment is open by appointment only To schedule an appointment: email jessica.s.kwok@gmail.com or call +1 (347) 443-3549 For press inquiries: email jessica.s.kwok@gmail.com

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Water Chesnut Frieze, 2019

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Frame House Whereabouts

Ficus Interfaith
Frame House Whereabouts

September 14 – October 21, 2018

Interstate Projects
Opening Reception September 14, 6-9pm

 

 

The word ‘building’ is both a noun and a verb: the structure itself and the act of making it. As a noun, a building is shelter that has a roof, walls and stands more or less permanently in one place.

Ancient households layered sand to cover compacted earth; creating a warm, soft covering that could be replaced regularly. In some dwellings, seed shells such as peanut and sunflower were scattered across the floor. As it was walked on, the oil from the shells would coat the occupants’ feet and become spread out across the ground, hardening its surface while making it more compact, stable, and free of dust.

Archaeologists use the term, terrazzo, to describe some of the floors created over 10,000 years ago in Neolithic settlements across Western Asia. Excavation notes illustrate beautiful, dusty pads of mottled stone chips pressed and polished into patterns in the ground. This practice continued through antiquity as marble artisans fashioned the floors of their own homes with the leftover marble tile scraps from the days’ work. Today, many of the aggregates used in terrazzo are pulled from the industrial waste-stream, continuing its history of reuse in construction.

For this exhibition, Ficus Interfaith presents a series of terrazzo frames. These frames, along with an additional suite of sculptures, describe navigating a house. The works occupy two floors, vibrating between the distinctions of display room and domestic space. Windows and doors operate as metaphors for other worlds, portals with the potential to activate your imagination. Embracing the spirit of collaboration and highlighting the pragmatism of reuse, the sculptures invite all to ‘play house’. The gallery acts as a skeleton with borrowed flesh, the unlived foundation of a more complete and separately constructed space.


Ficus Interfaith
 (is a collaboration between Ryan Bush (b. 1990, Denver CO) and Raphael Cohen (b. 1989, New York, NY). As much a research initiative as a sculptural practice, Ficus Interfaith pursues projects that focus on their personal and collective interactions with nature and natural history. Their work has been exhibited at Prairie (Chicago, IL), Alyssa Davis (NYC), MX Gallery (NYC) and Gern en Regalia (NYC) and they were artists in residence this year at 2727 California Street (Berkeley, CA) and Shandaken: Storm King (NY).

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http://www.interstateprojects.org/index.php?/ficus-interfaith/

TERRAZZO WORKSHOP with 2727 California Street & theperfectnothingcatalog

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Progress Beyond Reason

­­MX Gallery
169 Canal St, 5th floor

“Progress Beyond Reason”

Thomas Laprade/Aaron Lehman
Ficus Interfaith

 

We’ve always made sure to tell and retell the story of darkness and light.  And just as our ancestors danced to the songs of their ancestors, they always remembered to teach the steps to their young.  Juking became jerking and Egyptian hieroglyphs found their way into gay ballroom dances uptown.  The things the dead made and left behind were poignant too, especially when we could run fingers along the cracks that bore witness to their stories– as if we needed proof that time passed before we became lucky enough to sit up and watch it tick.

These rituals of making, sharing, and conserving guarantee that beliefs and values endure from one generation to the next.  Ritual, above all, functions to preserve social memory by connecting an individual to a shared, cultural history.  Dapping it up in the local fashion feels especially good when it’s as physical (with your arms around another body) as it is transcendentally shared. Ritual becomes the performance of history and our performance of ritual is the medium by which history thrusts forward and gives life meaning.

In pre-modern society this meaning of life was given at the beginning, and this meaning was immanent in all the ordinary customs and practices of daily life.  The beat of the drum told the feet exactly how they should move- and that alone was worth reproducing to keep the world going around.  In modern society, however, meaning is not given at the beginning of life– meaning is to be sought, discovered, acquired, and often discarded and re-rediscovered.  Suddenly it was no longer enough to make the world go around but necessary that it also move forward.

So the idea of progress and the need for perpetual improvement became held in the highest regard in the new world. A society, a life, or an action that did not show progress came to seem meaningless, and, in turn, ritual stood on the other side of a Great Divide.  It became tantamount to a blind faith in the past.  Ritual, as opposed to reason, became barbarism and idolatry that could only impede the path to a bright and rational future.

Some, equipped with instruments for measuring and fine-tuning, went about banishing the sprites and gargoyles that lived in the dark corners of the imagination.  They replaced them with methods of categorization and confinement, and even applied these ideas to people.  They claimed ornament was the mark of the savage and renovated temples to humiliate monks with simple reason and logic.  Others, erecting towers of mullioned glass and rectangular greys, said ritual was the insidious tool of authority used to stratify and take advantage of the aspirational poor. Ritual became our bogeyman, no longer a boon but a blight on progress.

Progress was to be social, scientific, liberal, constant, faster, constant, better, constant… until we found ourselves moving again to the beat of that ancient drum.  These activities, held to the metric of seemingly quantifiable progress and perpetual improvement became the new customs and practices of every day life–the modern ritual.

Yet all those cancerous qualities we feared about ritual– the blind faith and idolatry– were only in remission.  Aided by technology, these symbols of progress reproduced and hurdled through our psyches so fast that they became empty shells of what they once stood for. A dangerously ritualistic faith in progress emerged; the idea of a better future hijacked by eco-conscious marketing ploys, protestors at rallies in search of social currency, aerodynamic razors with embossed speed stripes for hairless bodies.  Futurism in this sense became reduced to a hyperbole of a wasteful and indulgent present; one that carrot-sticks us into the future while leaving us too tranquilized to really feel, think, or act in the moment.

We see this trickery most clearly in the technologies and materials that literally form the foundation of our culture. Perhaps the enabling feature of the Roman Empire’s sprawl was their use of concrete— they were the envy of the western world for the speed of their megalithic construction. Domes, aqueducts, and arches were poured rather than painstakingly pieced together. The imperfect predecessor of this technology was clay and the inheritors of its successes were plastics, rubber, terrazzo, and today the infinitely variable rendered image. What each of these technologies enable and share is their plasticity and offer of unlimited new forms. A poured concrete façade of a neoclassical building does not rely on wooden beams, columns of fluted reeds, and pegs that tie columns to architrave, and yet all those features are visible because they were the original construction techniques of Greek temples. While plastic materials like concrete offer vast potential for new forms, we continue to imbue them with the symbols of the past. We see in these technologies a preservation of image, appearance, and ritual while materiality drops away. This culminates in the rendered image, an image literally without matter. We live in homes with hollow Ikea furniture.

The fact of how we preserve our past when given so much technological potential for newness suggests that we can’t escape our history, but maybe there is potential within it for liberation.  If ritual is the practice of history then it must be a history for life. Not an idea of history that is only a scientific recording of facts, or limited by nostalgia and a blind recreation of past styles, but a practice that empowers an imagination aimed at the horizon. Today it’s possible to hear the ancient drum and, rather than be captive to it, have the ability to decide how the feet should move.

“Progress Beyond Reason”, featuring Thomas Laprade/Aaron Lehman and Ficus Interfaith, will run through July 4. Gallery hours are by appointment. To make an appointment please contact 773-490-0191 or 203-321-3701, or email info@mxgallery@gmail.com

 

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