Taking Your Attention Hostage at Jack Shainman

HiJack! Installation View courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery
Burj Al Arab (Dubai) by Chris Mottalini

In a HIJACKING situation there is the occupation, demanding and taking of hostages. Last August 2, 2012 – Arte Fuse came to Jack Shainman Gallery on 20th Street and encountered a HiJACK-ing in progress. The art handlers have taken over the space and turned the mechanics of an exhibition upside down or rather right side up with the show HiJack!

The Stonebreakers (All the Objects Needed to Install a Work of Art) by Tyler Rowland
Luke Turner, Curator of HiJack!

The show organized/curated by Luke Turner along with Victor de Matha and Daniel Finch has fostered a new dawn to focus the spotlight on the less visible member of the art flow chart – the art handlers. Without their expert skill and sweat equity, it is impossible for a gallery to stage exhibitions month after month. Most art handlers are well educated and accomplished artists that happen to have the unglamorous job being picture hangers per art industry parlance.

The staunch artists that took over the gallery in the show are: Anthony Campuzano, Bessma Khalaf, Esperanza Mayobre, Chris Mottalini, Odili Donald Odita, Mariah Robertson, Tyler Rowland, and Malick Sidibé.

The Hostages or Captive Audience at the opening reception
Esperanza Mayobre, Artist

All of the works touch on the worldwide social issue of human labor in all forms and dynamics. There were paintings, multi-media work, video, drawings, and installations. Another feature of note was the library out front with the bench seating area with table fashioned from found lumber by the art handlers. All the art books and reference materials that are usually behind the reception desk is out in the open for easy access. The door that privately encloses the office has been removed to expose it to the public. Unconventional strokes of fancy that really espouses the whole take over as not merely lip service and the gallery is indeed under siege – with their full consent of course.

Examining the selected oeuvre and talking to some of the artists during the shoulder to shoulder packed opening reception yielded a passionate overview of each one about their art. It is not only about the obvious or the aesthetic nature of the work but the underlying message that final results does not take into account the tireless labor put in. It is true that sometimes a work of art is born out of blood, sweat and tears. Perhaps the best summary and work that exemplified this is the tableau of All of the Objects Needed to Install a Work of Art. This installation is poignant and encapsulates the austere nature of the work behind the work. For that, one’s attention is taken hostage to be reminded that the hand that hangs the art really rules the world although in silent satisfaction.

Chris Mottalini, Artist
Tyler Rowland, Artist

HiJack! / On View: August 2 – September 1, 2012
Gallery Summer Hours: Monday – Friday (10 am – 6 pm)
Jack Shainman Gallery. 513 West 20th Street. New York, NY 10011

article by: Oscar A. Laluyan
event photos by: Max Noy

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The press release and the photographs are courtesy of the gallery and the artists.

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