Commonwealth and Council

Can you feel it?

Jeanine Oleson


Commonwealth and Council presents an exhibition of recent work by Jeanine Oleson that pushes against the membrane between the expressible and the inexpressible—a layer of skin or misunderstanding that keeps one’s interiority from reaching the surface. Oleson looks for ways out: the belly button, the eye, the ear. “

Can you feel it?” explores the limits of consciousness within one’s own experience. The sculptures presented here, like all of Oleson’s work, are at once symbolic relics and conductors of phenomenology. For example, a hand-blown glass instrument illustrates the body’s negotiation with its surroundings, externalizing the functions of the breath. It was used in a recent performance at the Hammer Museum, in which three performers created sound through both breath and body temperature. In this exhibition, a transducer speaker made with a shell amplifies sound produced by the instrument’s sensors, as well as recordings from the performance. The shell here is not an object of childhood wonderment, an aural conduit of the sea, but a technical form of volume. “Figures of Speech”(2016) reveals the normally hidden processes that allow materials to become functional. Performers transmute copper and clay into a speaker that is both object and subject—a vehicle for expression and a signifier of the precedent labor and the artist’s body of research. The performers themselves are conductors of sound and remind us of our own mechanisms to understand one another. This material investigation is broadened to include 3D imaging technology, or the fascination with rendering in a mediated manner something that is already three-dimensional. Cyan and red are immediate denotations of enhanced dimensionality, although ultimately arbitrary choices and could be other chromatically opposite colors. This idea that we must make perceptible what is already visible, audible, or three-dimensional, becomes profound absurdity. 

Jeanine Oleson (b, 1974, Astoria, OR; lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) is an interdisciplinary artist working with images, materiality, and language, which she forms into complex and humorous objects, images, videos, and performances. She attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (BFA 1995), Rutgers University (MFA 2000), and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2000). Oleson has exhibited and performed at venues including: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2017); Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA (2016); SculptureCenter, New York, NY (2016); Pierogi, Brooklyn, NY (2015), New Museum, New York, NY (2014); La Mama Galleria, NY (2014); Exit Art, New York, NY (2012); CCA Andrax, Mallorca (2012); Beta-Local, San Juan, Puerto Rico (2012); Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, CA (2012); X-Initiative, New York, NY (2010); Grand Arts, Kansas City, MO (2009); Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY (2009); Diverseworks, Houston, TX (2009); Gallery 400, University of Illinois at Chicago, IL (2007); L.A.C.E., Los Angeles, CA (2006); Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, ME (2006); H&R Block Artspace, Kansas City Museum of Art, MO (2006); Participant, Inc., New York, NY (2006); Monya Rowe Gallery, New York, NY (2005); Pumphouse Gallery, London, UK (2005); Samson Projects, Boston, MA (2005); Art in General, New York, NY (2004); MoMA P.S.1, Queens, NY (2002); and White Columns, New York, NY (2000). Oleson has received a Rema Hort Mann Artist Community Engagement Grant (2016), Creative Capital Artist Grant (2015), Puffin Foundation and Foundation for Contemporary Art Emergency Grant (2014), Franklin Furnace Fellowship (2009), Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant (2009), Brooklyn Arts Council Community Arts Regrant (2008 and 2009), and a Professional Development Fellowship, College Art Association (1999–2000). She was in residence at Smack Mellon Studio Program, New York, NY in 2009. She also published two books about performance projects in 2012, “What?” and “The Greater New York Smudge Cleanse.” Oleson is an Assistant Professor of Photography in the Department of Art, Media, and Technology at Parsons School of Design. Her exhibition, “Conduct Matters” for Hammer Projects is on view through August 6, 2017.