Body High: Rema Ghuloum, John Mills, and Nick Wilkinson

GhuloumRema studio 3 2017 1SMALL Body High: Rema Ghuloum, John Mills, and Nick Wilkinson
Saturday, April 22, 2017
7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

1206 Maple Ave; Bendix Building; 5th floor #523 , los angeles CA 90015


Body High
April 22nd – May 14th, 2017
Open both Saturdays and Sundays for the duration of the show
Opening Reception – Saturday April 22nd from 7-10pm

Tiger Strikes Asteroid Los Angeles
The Bendix Building
1206 Maple Avenue, 5th floor, #523
Los Angeles, CA 90015, USA

(Los Angeles) Tiger Strikes Asteroid is proud to present Body High: new sculptures, paintings, and drawings by Rema Ghuloum, John Mills, and Nick Wilkinson. This will be TSA LA’s first official exhibition in their new space in the Bendix Building.

If we zoom out and think about speech in a very simplistic way, our physiological responses to it seem to function as a kind of neurological palindrome: react/receive/react. Of course, speech is infinitely complicated by the content and context of language and our usage of it, not to mention the fact that when we communicate anything can go wrong (and often does). The vicious digression here would be a list of the thousands of historical attempts to quell problems of communication. We make painstaking efforts to mitigate the stumbling blocks that keep us from being able to fully understand one another, but alas the variables of the system always increase…and why shouldn’t they, our infinitely complicated responses are part of what makes linguistic communication so interesting and so fundamentally human. These types of responses play an essential role in the way that we view artwork as well, and the way in which artwork functions socially. All three of the artists in Body High make the case for this abundantly clear and yet they remain fiercely democratic in their approach to communication, which is to say that they have each found an extraordinary way to dampen background noise while simultaneously avoiding relying on rhetoric or slogan. Bringing their work together in one physical space is an attempt to provide a sort of pitched battle – one that takes as its basic premise that, regardless of the complex idiosyncratic responses we may have to artwork, our physical responses remain primary and critical.

The other, finer point is that the most emulatable virtue in all three of these artists is that they are unrelenting parrhesiastes. This may seem like a strange thing to put forward since there is no evidence of actual interpretable language present in any of their work, yet all three of them use the logic and form of language to speak a kind of truth, namely that we are capable of understanding through our bodies first and our minds second. A Cartesian assumption, sure, but hey…

Rema Ghuloum (Los Angeles) makes sculptures that cause us to momentarily set aside our need to extract coherent meaning from language and accept that words, regardless of their meaning, are made of the same stuff we are (i.e. words have bodies). Ghuloum’s sculptural glyphs function inside of the grand tradition of word-as-sculpture but with one serious kink…there is no word. This shows us that a particular arrangement of letters does not necessarily need to be ‘read’ in order to be ‘understood’. More importantly, in Rema’s work we are reminded of something that we already know but take for granted: language is simply form with injected meaning. Her work reveals that while meaning is biodegradable, form is not. What she gives us is a kind of physical poetry, a strange and beautiful antecedent to the alphabet. These proto-linguistic objects unveil a small secret…the magic of language resides primarily in its shape and not necessarily in its meaning.

John Mills’ (Los Angeles) meandering compositions fade in and out of representational clarity so fluidly that they make it seem ridiculous to even draw any distinctions between representation and abstraction. Sure, pareidolia runs rampant and at first look these paintings may feel like a kind of Rorschach test but they also do something much more critical. The work is imbued with a kind of pre-cognitive and pre-linguistic sensibility. Looking at his work feels like asking an elephant to learn a language by staring at a road sign. Eventually the fundamental questions at the heart of these paintings becomes clear: is it possible to look at something familiar as if we are seeing it for the first time? Can we truly reconsider something that we have always taken for granted? Is it possible to reshape our world from this new perspective? What would it mean if we were able to extend this logic to all aspects of our lives? This is a radical idea and one with potentially deep implications for our social and political structures. Mills’ work rejects the kind of comfortable ideological nesting that we are all guilty of. He asks us to consider what it would be like to look at the world as if it were completely new, free of our linguistic baggage, free of our inherited wisdom, free of prejudice and expectation.

Nick Wilkinson (San Luis Obispo) makes paintings and drawings that are a strong argument for revisiting the Tower of Babel in the current cultural moment. These airy, crunchy paintings wiggle and fold space in strange ways. His work is conflated by the injection of a self-generated symbology, jostling forms blend into backgrounds and float above surfaces. It is unclear whether what we are seeing is the invention of a new alphabet or the unearthing of an ancient text. Nick acts as a kind of shaman or medium channeling awkward and sophisticated forms while occasionally dropping a few bread crumbs to help us back from the trip. Images that feel vaguely familiar pop into the work in unexpected places. Warped yin-yang symbols, chopped Stussy logos, the silhouette of a hat, all cause us to feel vague pangs of nostalgia – but why? And for what? What we end up with is a chaotic collision of symbols from the recent past, symbols from some kind of ancient or alien civilization, and symbols that have previously never existed. This whiplash collapse of timelines, references, and spatial orientations is, in its way, sublime…an exhilarating form of aphasia settles over us in their presence.
For more information please contact Tiger Strikes Asteroid Los Angeles at losangeles@tigerstrikeasteroid.com, or visit our site at www.tigerstrikesasteroid.com. The gallery is free and open to the public from noon to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, with additional hours by appointment.
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Tiger Strikes Asteroid is a network of artist-run spaces with locations in Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Each space is independently operated and focuses on presenting a varied program of emerging and mid-career artists. Our goal is to collectively bring people together, expand connections and build community through artist-initiated exhibitions, projects, and curatorial opportunities. We seek to further empower the artist’s role beyond that of studio practitioner to include the roles of curator, critic, and community developer; and to act as an alternate model to the conventions of the current commercial art market. Tiger Strikes Asteroid is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization.
On view at the other Tiger Strikes Asteroid Locations:

PHILADELPHIA: Douglas Witmer: Dubh Glas
January 27 – March 12

NEW YORK: x ≈ y: An Act of Translation, curated by Andrew Prayzner and Naomi Reis
February 17 – March 26

CHICAGO: Carris Adams: This, That, and the Third
March 5 – April 3


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