October 26 – December 2, 2023
Opening Reception Thursday October 26, 6-8pm
Microscope is very pleased to present “ƨlɒƨɿɘvɘЯ” as the 3rd solo exhibition at the gallery by New York artist Joel Schlemowitz. With new acrylic on canvas paintings, corrugated cardboard sculptures, and a five-projector 35mm slide installation, Schlemowitz consider the evolution of art mediums, the nature of their preservation, and the impact of the influx of constantly upgrading technological mediums on art and art history.
While the exhibition title’s most overt reference is to reversal film stock, used for 35mm photographic slides and 16mm film — which is celebrating its 100th year of existence — it also alludes to, among others, the concepts behind and the processes the artist has used to realize the works on view.
“The starting point for these paintings began with a paradoxical notion – to move backwards from a photographic media to its ancestor. … Going from film (16mm) to painting rather than in the other direction, as when a painting is photographed to be reproduced en masse.” — J. S.
In his new series of twenty-one grayscale paintings, Schlemowitz highlights the way in which many technologies that have been adopted by media artists in the last century have arguably been more widely appreciated as tools for the documentation of traditional arts forms — including those made for archives, catalogs, publications, and other methods of mass sharing — by subverting and reversing this trajectory.
Schlemowitz’s paintings depict actual, multi-frame-segments of film containing directional elements such as the countdown leader and sound synching indicators, which are typically seen solely by projectionist and film lab technicians. Although the source material is commercially mass produced, each painting can be seen as an enlarged portrait of a unique, 16mm wide strip of film for which the artist has exactingly represented every piece of accumulated dust, scratch, or other imperfection, whether temporary or permanent. Musing about the high probability that the painting will outlive the original, Schlemowitz whimsically proposes painting as a future method of moving image preservation. The size of the paintings, 40 x 30 inches, will be recognizable to those familiar with film and video as corresponding to the 4:3 aspect ratio, if rotated 90 degrees.
In new small and medium-sized sculptures constructed with cardboard, acrylic paint, and Kraft tape, the artist elevates the behind-the-scenes equipment and technical tools used in filmmaking. Schlemowitz says of the works: “These are cameras, projectors, film stock, editing equipment. Everything you would need to make a film, excepting the functionality of any of it.” From a distance the sculptures could trick one’s eye into believing that they are looking at the real objects. However upon on closer viewing, it becomes clear that they are hand-made replicas, emphasizing the aesthetics of the devices that that in most cases have been long out of production.
The exhibition also marks the debut of Schlemowitz’s 35mm slide projection installation “Les Preludes” (2019), a work comprised of 405 slides playing from five rear projectors onto mirrors angled on the floor that then reflect the images back onto suspended screens. Alternating between imagery taken from countdown leader and original 16mm black & white footage the artist filmed in New York City during the mid-to-late 1990s, “Les Preludes” evokes both the “city symphony” genre, a poetic experimental documentary of a place, and Franz Liszt symphonic poem, that was prefaced with the text “What else is our life but a series of preludes…”
“Joel Schlemowitz: ƨlɒƨɿɘvɘЯ” opens on Thursday October 26th, 6 to 8pm, and continues through December 2nd, 2023. For further information please contact the gallery at [email protected] or by phone at 347.925.1433.
Joel Schlemowitz is an artist known for working with multiple mediums including celluloid film, collage, painting, sculpture, installation, and performance. Schlemowitz’s work has been presented at institutions including at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, NY; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Museum of Moving Image (MoMI), New York, NY; Anthology Film Archives, New York, NY; the New York Film Festival (NYFF), New York, NY; Tribeca Film Festival, New York, NY; Ukrainian Institute of America, New York, NY; Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Brooklyn, NY; George Eastman Museum, Rochester, NY; Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA; San Francisco Cinematheque, San Francisco, CA; The Images Festival, Toronto, Canada; Museum of Contemporary Cinema, Madrid, Spain; and numerous others. His work has been reviewed and discussed in e-flux, Hyperallergic, Millennium Film Journal, The New York Times, Vice, and many others.
Schlemowitz’s work also appears in publications including “Cinema Expanded: avant garde film in the age of intermedia,” J. Walley, Oxford University Press, 2020; “Experimental Film & Photochemical Practices, K. Knowles,” Palgrave MacMillan, 2020; “Experimental Filmmaking: Break the Machine,” K. Ramey, CRC Press, 2018; and others. He is also the author of “Experimental Filmmaking and the Motion Picture Camera: An Introductory Guide for Artists and Filmmakers,” Focal Press/Routledge, 2019, with a second book forthcoming in 2024. Grants include from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), the Jerome Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, among others. Joel Schlemowitz currently lives and works between Brooklyn and New Paltz, NY.