Anna Ostoya: Transpositions

Anna Ostoya: Transpositions

June 5 - August 24, 2014
Curated by Martha Kirszenbaum

Press conference: Wednesday, June 4 at 5.30pm
Opening: Wednesday, June 4 at 6.30pm
Private view during Art Basel: Friday, June 20 at 7pm
(shuttle departing corner Isteinerstrasse / Bleichestrasse at 6.15pm)

In a conceptual practice that incorporates collage, photomontage, painting, sculpture, and writing, Anna Ostoya (b. 1978 in Krakow, Poland, lives and works in Brooklyn, USA) has developed a singular and critical body of works that concentrates on avant-garde aesthetics, particularly on the representation of feminism, the tension between image and media, and the legacy of 20th century art movements including Constructivism, Dada, Art Informel, Expressionism, and Minimalism. Recycling pre-existing images, materials and histories, Ostoya challenges notions of deconstruction and authenticity. Her work forms a continuity out of fragments as a process of creating new meanings and as a vehicle for political change. Using materials that range from the precious (gold leaf) to the mundane (newspaper) and from the industrial (aluminum leaf) to the organic (blood), Ostoya calls into question the very conventions she appropriates.

Transpositions is the first institutional exhibition of the artist in France and the title of a new series of works conceived for La Kunsthalle Mulhouse. Over a period of eight months, Ostoya followed a work plan and set up rules to experiment with different modes of decision-making. The history and architecture of La Kunsthalle’s building itself, a former industrial factory functioning as a foundry from the early 1920s through the 1980s, directly inspired the production of the pieces. The series is derived from considerations regarding past and present work practices and procedures. In her working process for Transpositions, as for some of her previous series, Ostoya reflects on the role and position of an artist in society: she disputes the stereotypes applied to an artist—that of a free spirit, an entrepreneur, or a worker. Testing the possibilities for artistic production, she juxtaposes the notion of art as an emotional, spontaneous, and disinterested expression with the notion of art as a rational, controlled, and purposeful endeavor.

Transpositions comprises ten large, horizontal new compositions, each spanning 100 by 200 cm, in which Ostoya sets into motion a leitmotif: a square is transposed from one canvas to the next in a sequence of ten. The square—a shape prized for the purity of its form by the Suprematists and other modernists—evolves as it slides from one work to the next as if on an assembly line. Recycling leftover materials from earlier works and reclaiming distinct art-historical traditions, these compositions are retrospective investigations of historical permanence and transition, continuity and rupture. Transposition—the act of transferring something from one place or context to another and a term used in various pursuits, including music, law, mathematics, genetics, and chess—implies both Ostoya’s methodology and the literal movement of the square across the canvases, but it also alludes to the generational and cultural transference of ideas and forms. The heterogeneous materials and techniques used by Ostoya range from oil paint to acrylic or shellac, from palladium leaf to paper or fabric, which she cuts, pastes, apposes, and transposes.

The exhibition is accompanied by the first monograph of Ostoya’s work that considers her oeuvre as a whole. The works reproduced in the book are the outcome of years of artistic practice and vivid discussions with curators, writers, and thinkers, such as the authors of this volume, Ben Lerner and Tom Williams. Writer Ben Lerner evocatively recounts his encounters with three of Ostoya’s works, discovering how the borders between images and shapes in them become rich sites of historical reflection and critique; art historian Tom Williams contemplates Ostoya’s oeuvre through the prism of avant-garde critique, focusing on her varied appropriations of art-historical styles and imagery.

Anna Ostoya studied at Parsons School of Art and Design in Paris and at Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. From 2008 to 2009, she participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York City. Ostoya’s major solo presentations include Bortolami Gallery, New York (2011 and 2013); Silberkuppe, Berlin (2011 and 2013); Tegenboschvanvreden, Amsterdam (2011); Foksal Gallery, Warsaw (2010) and Center for Contemporary Art Kronika, Bytom (2010). Her photomontages and collages were recently included in “New Photography 2013” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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Image: Anna Ostoya, Transposition I, 2013, archival pigment print, acrylic, shellac, paper and palladium leaf on canvas.100 x 200 cm / 39.37 x 78.74 in. Courtesy of the artist.

La Kunsthalle Mulhouse
Centre d'art contemporain
La Fonderie
16 rue de la Fonderie
68093 Mulhouse Cedex