HARRY DODGE WORKS OF LOVE
JULY 8 – SEPTEMBER 30, 2018
JOAN 1206 Maple Ave #715 Los Angeles, CA 90015
Organized by Adam Marnie and Rebecca Matalon, JOAN, Los Angeles, with Tufts University Art Galleries, Medford, MA
JOAN is pleased to present Harry Dodge Works of Love, the second solo exhibition in Los Angeles of the acclaimed, interdisciplinary artist Harry Dodge. Since the early 1990s, Dodge has been a pioneer in video, sculpture, drawing, performance, screenwriting, film, and DIY community-making. Harry Dodge Works of Love is organized by Adam Marnie and Rebecca Matalon, JOAN, Los Angeles, with Tufts University Art Galleries, Medford, MA, where an expanded version of the exhibition will open in January 2019.
Harry Dodge Works of Love features a series of recent sculptures that reflect Dodge’s evolving interests in the fast-moving, ethically-charged field of robotics and machine intelligence as it interweaves with questions of desirous matter and intersubjectivity, or what French poet and philosopher Édouard Glissant called “consenting not to be a single being.” Informed by Glissant’s writing, as well as other established and emergent writings on social theory and science studies, Dodge’s work is attuned to being as manifold, constructed, and contingent. In this exhibition, Dodge toys with reframing relationality-in-general as practices of love, a kind of being-with that does not exclude the nonhuman. As feminist philosopher and critical theorist Judith Butler explains: “I am not only already in the hands of someone else before I start to work with my own hands, but I am also, as it were, in the ‘hands’ of institutions, discourses, environments, including technologies and life processes, handled by an organic and inorganic object field that exceeds the human. In this sense, ‘I’ am nowhere and nothing without the nonhuman.”
About these issues, Dodge has said: “I had for so long considered humans (and all of their contrivances) to be, in some real sense, a scourge on the otherwise flawless, paradisiacal surface of the earth. Of late, I have felt the need to re-think some of this backward-looking orientation: if I’m so invested in matter, and allow that matter made humans, how could we—wholesale—be a scourge? Why would I insist that metallic minerals somehow exist apart from the cosmological givens? Why would I believe that human ingenuity, curiosity, expression exist apart from the cosmological givens? Do humans make things like bees do? like bowerbirds? Quite probably. And that, to me, means that our inventions accrue because they can’t not accrue. The word and the thing human become frayed, ecstatically contaminated by (the habits of matter and) everything else. In this way, I’ve come to the idea that, however marvelous, nothing is (in fact) strange. (Which isn’t to say that nothing is awful, or immoral, or unwise. Only to say that I had been taking the wrong tack in evaluating the “not-me.”) We exceed our skins. And this—if you really think about it—changes everything. I had formerly thought that digital or quantifiable entities were incompatible with something structurally-continuous, infinite, unknowable. At some point I started to wonder if there could be a digital-object, or even some sort of programmable robot that might be able to (theoretically, eventually) produce affect, or something in the range of affect, something which (radiant), might also then leap, invisibly, from person to person or even thing to person, e.g., love.”
Harry Dodge holds an MFA from Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College and is permanent faculty of the School of Art at California Institute of the Arts, Program in Art. Recent solo exhibitions of Dodge’s work include Mysterious Fires (2017) at Grand Army Collective, Brooklyn; The Inner Reality of Ultra-Intelligent Life (2016) at Pasadena’s Armory Center for the Arts; The Cybernetic Fold (2015) at Wallspace, NY; and Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy (2013) at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Connecticut. Recent group exhibitions include the New Museum’s 40th anniversary exhibition Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon (2018); Selections from the Permanent Collection (2017) at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA); Living Apart Together: Selections from the Collection (2017) at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and the Hammer Museum’s 2014 Biennial, Made in L.A.. In 2017 Dodge was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship.
Installation view of Harry Dodge Works of Love, July 8 – September 30, 2018 at JOAN, Los Angeles, © Paul Salveson