Entering the sunlit space of 5-50 Gallery in Long Island City, I was immersed in a scene of shrapnel from an exploded post-industrial site. The colliding masses of textures are still in flight, yet for a moment, magnetically tethered to spindly metal structures. These fragmented remnants threaten to give into forces of gravity and yet feel serenely grounded. Andrew Erdos and Yasue Maetake’s second collaboration Amorphous Terrain II, disperses these forms in their shifting state throughout the space. Growths of glass, aluminum, paper pulp, and corroding metal seem to be deteriorating simultaneously as they emerge.
Maetake and I met to discuss the collaboration, construction, and concepts of the installation.
How did you and Andrew Erdos begin collaborating?
Andrew and I often describe the first step of the process as “attempting the artificial re-enactment of each material’s virtual melting point, by treating as if they were directly malleable”. The original approach was very simple. We made hybrid associations emanating from industrial/natural materials such as rattan and meticulously crafted objects like handmade paper, as well as man-made industrial steel rebar, plumbing pipes, molten glass and metal pigments…just materials. Both of us see none of substance as their final appearance so it is not difficult for us to work together exploring the core of a material, breaking it down, and then through trial, coming to understand how to put it all back together again in a form of our choosing.
How does this current collaboration differ from your first installation of Amorphous Terrain?
Amorphous Terrain I was a singular monolith in the unique former-office converted project space called mh RPOJECT nyc. The fundamental difference between the editions was the production of a singular monolith by two artists’ hands or a dispersion of form through a space. Amorphous Terrain II is a dispersion of forms that act uniquely and harmoniously.
What is the process from idea to creation of your sculptures? How does the work grow in the space, and how do you know when it has grown enough?
The challenging part is to leave a nuance of “ongoing” so the full growth is not a goal. Even while using concrete objects, I want to convey an impression of every material’s physical transitional state as it changes from one expression to another. This gives opportunity for viewers to indulge in their imagination and hover above architecture and landscapes. For the sculptures to be realized, I need the viewer’s help to satisfy or push the final growth.
Greg Barton, the curator, describes the installation as “question[ing] how humans modify the world in ways both detrimental and vitalizing.” How do you balance these energies?
In this industrial and waste-producing society, the objects I choose to use are exploited to their utmost, which accelerates this depleting cycle. For example, the handmade papers are often adorned with various patinas, yielding hues such as turquoise and reddish-brown residues, which are often sourced from the industrial waste products from my own finished sculptures. Unlike the constant disintegration on such scraps, I attempt to embed their ceaseless erosion deep into the handmade paper through the fiber’s hydrogen-bond – thereby, I transform a patina into a permanent material – if this is called the balance.
The installation guides the audience through the space, encouraging a total, three-dimensional experience around each piece. The objects are not simply presented, but poised in a way that demands engagement. Can you talk about this environmental design?
The bodies of units will be merged in different degrees and into different variations as they are elevated by the specific designed scaffoldings/frames in the space. The biggest challenge for all of us is to be thrown in the space without walls and exits. Therefore the linear and structural elements in the show generously navigates the viewer through sight to address their presence as we feel safe in the house. This is not a demand. A visual transparency through frames also plays gives a reference point of altitude and distance. This demands the viewer’s awareness through their physical and spatial perspective. It awakens our awareness because we are accustomed to gazing at a flat screen.
What is your relationship with the materials (metal, paper, corrosion, wax)?
They are my subordinate and master.
You mentioned the concept of discrete objects. Can you elaborate?
In the past, I have tended to create more rigid forms by reworking manufactured materials into discrete sculptures. Recently, however, I have been constructing my sculptures from more ephemeral images, from form to formlessness, while maintaining a structural integrity that will inform the space and gravity as coordinating elements in its composition. The process of creating this current show is dealt with through a variety of spatial solutions while I focus on the encompassing effects that gravity has on every facet of our existence.
Can you tell us about upcoming projects we should keep an eye out for?
I am currently working on few new works for show curated by a new gallery director, Paula Burleigh, at Allegheny College Gallery located near Pittsburgh in Fall 2019.
5-50 Gallery is set in the former site of a classical stone carving studio which gives impetus and acts as metaphor to the concept of the gallery being a place for the progression of artistic thinking and new ideas. 5-50’s objective as a curatorial platform is to propel different dialogues / provide support to artists and curators. Ongoing Open Call for curatorial projects: firstname.lastname@example.org