Slag Fields is series of exhibitions exploring the presentation of artwork that has been created to fit into a specific narrative. During its creation, artwork intended for a narrative or series is imbued with an intrinsic cohesion, a cohesion that is completed when shown with like-narrative works. Solo exhibitions of an artist's work ideally allow for a complete control of the narrative, however, problems arise when the work is inevitably removed from its support structure due to the nature of the art world and its historical (and increasingly changing) methods of output and view: the curated group exhibition, art fairs, blogs, placement in a collection, or any forum where a work may require autonomy.
When a piece stands alone it has the opportunity to convey many different meanings, as the adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" asserts. However, the number of words each piece is theoretically worth decreases when shown in conjunction with its body of work, because those words must apply or contribute to the narrative as a whole. This specific vocabulary acts as a context which binds the works together to convey meaning. In music, the concept album demonstrates this idea as each song is a progression on a singular theme and the album is the narrative as a whole. Removing one song from the album would not break down the narrative, but removing the album from one song would. So how does a work made for a specific narrative retain this meaning as a singular work of art when removed from the narrative?
A separation of the part from the whole strips the work of its context. It sheds those extra words, freeing it of the shackles of specificity. The narrative or concept takes a backseat to the work's technical qualities: aesthetics, size and color, materials. The works begin to act as details, glimpses into the decision making process of the artist. Together the works create an objective worldview, alone they offer a subjective view of that world.
Slag Fields is an ongoing collaboration featuring work by artists Ry McCullough and Ian Breidenbach. Culling themes and inspiration from world and art history, geological phenomenon, literature, film, conceptual and post-minimal art these two artists bring together established narratives from their discrete studio practices. Through the use of photographs, objects, video, sound works, prints, drawings, collage and artist books this exhibition will approach the serious and epic subject matter of creating worlds using fragmented stories, half-truths, remnant fictions and cut-off ends.
The juxtaposition of discursive narrative details will allow the audience a compare and contrast opportunity, a glimpse into the different methods of two artists in pursuit of similar goals. Slag Fields offers the separation of the detail from the whole, with the belief that neither will lose its ability to function, and the hope that the dialogue created will expand our understanding of the greater process of storytelling in art.
The first iteration of Slag Fields was shown in Athens, GA in two galleries at the University of Georgia (Plaza and Suite) in September of 2015. A six part Zine is being created alongside of sculptural and installation works, photographs, video and performance.
Slag Fields (ii) took place at Skylab Gallery, in Columbus, OH in May of 2016.
Slag Fields (iii) took place in Ditch Projects in Springfeld, OR in October of 2016. A third artist was added to the mix, Michael Benedetti. An accompanying zine was published.