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Lower East Side Printshop is pleased to present its 2023 Winter Exhibition, Test Flights, curated by fiction writer and critic Jenny Wu. Featuring work by six artists in media ranging from printmaking to sculpture, video, and site-specific installation, the exhibition takes as its point of departure the Wright brothers’ 1903 test flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, during which their prototype aircraft made four low-altitude flights ending in an “unintended landing.”
“After these flights,” artist Kate Liebman writes, “a powerful gust of wind carried the plane across the dunes flipping it over and over and over on the ground.” The image of a tumbling plane is the subject of a meditation in Liebman’s video Fall, featured in the exhibition along with two works on mulberry paper and a drawing on linen. As a metaphor, the falling, winged creature captures the melancholia inherent in experimentation, with its iterative and exquisite failures.
Test Flights is a collection of such moments spent tripping and tumbling, making and unraveling. Artist and educator Qiaoyi Shi will present four intaglio prints on katakana paper depicting toddler gymnasts attempting surreal feats of coordination. Caroline Ongpin, a member of the Art Students League of New York, has contributed an aquatint etching of an imagined river that runs in circular currents, a reflection of the artist’s idea of paradise. Ernesto Ortiz-Leyva, a graduate of the California College of the Arts, will exhibit two monochromatic etchings that contain less forgiving views of eternity inspired by medieval Christian imagery. William Graef, an artist and instigator, will show a soft sculpture that skewers American consumerism while reaching back to a bygone era of independent filmmaking and vintage advertisements. Juan Hernández Díaz, who holds an MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts, will mark the walls of the exhibition space with pencil, creating an ephemeral, site-specific installation dedicated to “objects in precarious states.”
Through these artists’ works, LESP’s 2023 Winter Exhibition reflects on the role of the printshop as a test site. The thirteen experiments on display represent, each in their own way, a first flight—an arc of potential defined by the weight of risk, a launch from the ground whose zenith is paradise.
About the curator:
Jenny Wu is a fiction writer and critic. Her work has appeared in Artforum, BOMB, The Brooklyn Rail, and New York Times Magazine. She has organized exhibitions in New York and elsewhere—including most recently Texts and Soundings: The Image Talks Back at the NARS Foundation (2022). Wu has, in the past, provided editorial, research, and curatorial support for the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, MARCH: a journal of art & strategy, and Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center. She is currently a staff writer for The Millions and a recipient of the 2021-23 Tulsa Artist Fellowship, for which she is completing a book-length work of fiction.
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