SITE131’s fall exhibition, STRUCTURED introduces Danish artist ANNE DAMGAARD’s first presentation in the U S.  With dynamic flair, Damgaard’s fashions become objets d’art. Hungarian artist ZSOFIA SCHEWGER’s large meditative paintings of interiors reflect home, belonging, and the emigrant experience. Digitally contrived photographs of reinvented well-known paintings by American artist RICHARD TUSCHMAN show silent figures in familiar settings and capture themes of solitude and longing. And Colombian artist living in Texas, CRISTINA VELÁSQUEZ creates multiples of folded-image collages recognizing the impact of quiet repetition and life in a new culture. STRUCTURED shows September 14 ~ December 14, 2019.
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Slide Slide Slide Essay2 Unstructured, the world presents itself to us as mystery and maze; unpredictable, enticing and uncontrollable. We are all born into this magical world and gradually learn to perceive it as orderly, patterned and knowable. We learn to apply structure and to order and control the world and our lives through structure. Establishing maximum order is a truly modern project: The sharp light of science and philosophy has probed ever deeper and further into the elements that make up the world, asking ever more refined questions about its parts, its principles, its manner of assemblage.

The very word 'structure' came into use in the 15th century when architecture and art strove for new order, and as the world grew modern, we adopted the double vision of modernity: perceiving both the parts and patterns and the whole. We left the Wunderkammer (wonder closet) of the old world, where beauty was in the very mysteriousness of the object and have never stopped the painstaking work of analyzing and taking the world apart into its constituent elements. Languages, materials, societies were all shown to posses structures that determine function and action. Homes and social life and books and dresses, the most basic daily stuff, are all structures.

The exhibition STRUCTURED offers four different ways of re-enchanting the concept of structure and exploring the wonder of order. When Anne Damgaard deconstructs dresses into graceful abstractions, she is not just inviting us to rediscover the beautiful weirdness of clothes — sculptures we wear on the body — but also transcending the very limitations of structure. Each work is composed of strictly geometrical forms, and yet attains an organic quality as light and shadow play with these forms. Just as language utilizes an always-limited inventory of sounds to produce infinite meaning and even reinvent language, the very strictness of structure here transforms itself into hitherto unseen wonders.
The wonder of order 'Dress' is a format open to endless variation, and so is 'home.’ Zsofia Schweger strips down home to its most minimalist, yet immediately recognizable form. Devoid of life, we see the idea of home, anybody's and nobody's home. Home is a structure designed for life: take away that life and the structure still resounds with it. The absence of life in Schweger's calm, abstracted homes accentuates what home is all about. Strangely, the structures themselves seem to take on life; the furniture goes about its business in homes empty of humans.

Richard Tuschman recreates another abstracted form of home into lifelike yet sligthly apparitional scenes. The format 'home' has been shrunk into the tiny form of a dollhouse – an imitation of home – and populated with scenes imitating well-known images of American art. Tuschman's works inhabit a misty sphere of collective memory. Baroque nature morte meets echoes of early photography meets default humans meets dollhouse home. Taking in the scenery, we may feel estranged by the very familiarity of these unreal collages. 


'Book' is a format, too; yet another deeply familiar structure. The serene pages of books with their strictly ordered layout and endless repetition of letters and words and blank space are in themselves transformational zones, taking us into immaterial worlds of storytelling and fiction. When Cristina Velásquez reimagines book pages as patterns, new vistas open up on the page itself. The well-known pattern of words morphs into new patterns: one kind of rules and structures giving way to new kinds of rules and structures. The very order of it is the wonder!

Heidi Hadassah Laura is a writer and journalist living in Nyborg, Denmark. She is a staff writer for the Danish weekly paper Weekendavisen. Her recent book on the Danish artist and designer Bjørn Wiinblad documents his strong connections to Texas. Recently Ms Laura served as a resident artist at Texas’ 100W Corsicana.