Unexpected [spring 2017]: Jaime Tarazona’s appropriated etchings with pastel slabs, Cameron Schoepp’s surprising in situ installations, and Nina Katchadourian’s iPhone, transatlantic humorous self-portait & photographs. [Scroll down for gallery.] Slide Upsetting expectations of established objects sets the stage for the artists’ works in Unexpected. By uprooting these everyday objects from their assumed uses—a buckle liberates instead of confines, a bench deflects instead of accommodates—Nina Katchadourian, Cameron Schoepp, and Jaime Tarazona provide unforeseen uses for them. Ask yourself as you meander: Would you have expected any of these objects to act this way prior to walking into the gallery? We ought never forget the ability of art and space to transform our perceptions. Instead, we should expect it. These artists prove that sentiment through the dissolution of traditional frameworks surrounding the objects on view, startling our senses into a new reality—heightened and at times absurd.

Cameron Schoepp, a professor at Texas Christian University, takes the ready-made idea to ridiculous new heights and explores post-Utopian ideas of naturalistic patchwork identities. Using construction materials in “slightly elegant ways,” Schoepp—who enjoys a comradeship with British sculptor Richard Wentworth, who juxtaposes materials and found elements that do not belong together—creates visual fences around his works that both invite and confound viewers. In Bench/Place, for example, the sculpture and rug are works of art, not places of respite—and we are expected to respect them as such, based on this societally driven notion of the sacred art object. Surrealist René Magritte’s seminal Ceci n’est pas une pipe confirmed this jarring, arbitrarily agreed-upon system we inhabit, and Schoepp bluntly addresses it with his voluminous works. The upheaval of our shared semiotic language leaves the viewer questioning the power conferred upon visual cues. We are, Schoepp’s works suggest, submissive to societal introjections. Water-Line, Gas-Line, and See-Saw similarly highlight the idea of “not quite right” self-contained environments. But, Schoepp insists, “There is beauty arising from natural imperfections.”

New York artist Nina Katchadourian concurrently appears in her first museum exhibition at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, turns everyday objects into performance in her Seat Assignment series. The tension between freedom and restriction on cramped transatlantic flights becomes the impetus for her to transmute the mundane into unexpected musings. Napkins, for example, suddenly become costume reminiscent of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. This Duchampian skein that runs through her work—freeing objects from ‘constructed’ uses—imbues the ordinary items with a gleefully devilish appeal. Being “trapped” is liberating for Katchadourian.

Jaime Tarazona, from Colombia, superimposes new realities on found objects in an act of appropriation rife with implications for the unrealized Modernism movement in South American countries. Taking established etchings and painting over portions of them with monolithic, floating blocks of color, Tarazona upsets the architectural order depicted in these scenes with gestural movement. Referring to architects such as Swiss-French Le Corbusier and Dutch Rem Koolhaas, Tarazona concerns himself chiefly with the Modernist rhetoric of space and beauty arising from disorder. This places him in tandem with the other artists in Unexpected. Works such as The Guild Hall also occupy a position in the narratives of art history similar to that of the Pictures Generation, which counts Barbara Kruger and Richard Prince among its ranks. Like his antecedents, Tarazona is interested in utilizing found images—and their contained meanings—to synthesize thoroughly original ideas; in this case, the limits of Utopia.

Can you look at the works on view in this exhibition with the same perspective with which you stepped into the gallery? Hopefully not. These artists have broached several ideas of space through approaches in their art that span the spectrum from blunt to sly. They have confronted traditionally held notions of “order as supreme” to indicate their preference for sublimity in chaos. They have shaken loose the bonds of meaning to form their own. Were you expecting that from seat buckles, napkins, etchings, and benches.
– Alexander Remington, freelance arts writer UNEXPECTED @ SITE131