Sikkema Jenkins & Co Opens Electric: An Exhibition of New Works by Jennie C. Jones

Sikkema Jenkins & Co presents Electric, an exhibition of new works by Jennie C. Jones, on view through August 13, 2010.

Jennie C. Jones works at the intersection of art history and black history. She layers the formal language of modern art—abstraction, minimalism—over the conceptual and technical strategies of avant-garde jazz. Jones’ work in audio, sculpture and drawing extends the parallel legacies of experimentation, wit and riff of these radical cultural forms. The new work brought together in Electric continues the artist’s exploration of cultural confluence, hybridization, and a more complicated and historically inclusive form of modernism.

In her new audio work Slowly, In a Silent Way—Caged Jones digitally slows a section of Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way (using tempo changes and cross-fading) to match the length of John Cage’s pivotal work 4’33”. In Jones’ edit, the time frame Cage set aside for ‘silence’ is filled by Davis’ measured hypnotic instrumental score (his characteristic trumpet is absent from the edited section). The result is a meeting of two notions of silence.

The installation of this work is carefully integrated with the architecture of the gallery: it is set for playback on a loop that alternates between the side front galleries. When its speaker is ‘dead’ the Cage piece is recreated as the sound of its listeners, the space itself filling the rest of the void. This is a mediated version of Cage’s work: the speaker has replaced the live musicians.

In the main space, Jones presents a new series of collage and ink drawings based on the packaging of music. The “Song Container” series focuses on the compact disc box, transforming the commonplace collateral of listening into a minimalist art form. We are clearly still in the territory of the formal language of analogue but a new metaphor emerges in the reference to the ‘emptiness’ of the digital realm. Jones’ reconfigured containers—shells that once held something as ephemeral as sound—are shown with display racks and other objects that evoke the formal language of minimalism.

In the same space, a series of sculptural ‘drawings’ made from instrument cable are plugged directly into the gallery wall. The medium of these works—instrument cable—is part of the electrical apparatus used in the capture and editing of the music featured in this exhibition. Miles Davis’ performance of In a Silent Way featured a full-blown electric set-up and is regarded as the first of his fusion recordings. John Cage was a well-known electronic music pioneer. But by plugging into the non-conductor surface of the gallery wall these wall works bring us back to the idea of silence. In the same way, the artist playfully questions the title of the exhibition.

Jones attended Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts where she received her MFA in 1996. Prior to that she attended The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, receiving a BFA in 1991. Over the past decade she has participated in numerous prestigious artists residency and fellowship programs, both nationally and international. In 2008 she was a fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Study Center as well as a Visiting Artist at The American Academy in Rome, Italy. Her awards include a Creative Capital grant in 2008, The Rema Hort Mann Foundation Award, in 2006, and a Pollock-Krasner in 2000. Jones was the 2008 recipient of the William H. Johnson Prize awarded to one emerging African American artist a year. Upcoming exhibitions include a major solo shows at The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco and LAXArt, Los Angeles in early 2011.

Image: Jennie C. Jones, Song Containers #2, 2010. Collage and ink on paper, 15 x 10 inches (38.1 x 25.4 cm). Photo: Courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co

Sikkema Jenkins & Co
530 W. 22nd Street New York, NY 10011
P. 212.929.2262 F. 212.929.2340 E.

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