Works on Paper / Chad Kleitsch
in conversation with new writing by Tim Davis
Curated by Kate Menconeri
Exhibition: May 5 – June 25, 2011
Opening reception: Thursday, May 5, 6 – 8pm
Artist Talk: Tuesday, June 21, 7pm
In the New York debut of Works on Paper, photographer Chad Kleitsch selects original documents – letters, scores, manuscripts, and everyday correspondence – and exposes them under the light of the scanner, creating a new portrait of the document, that reveals both sides of the page within one. Kleitsch uses a scanner as a camera in a practice termed “scanography”, where the light of the scanner exposes the paper or object, similar to the way in which photographers worked from paper negatives in the last century. The items selected are sometimes gifted to the artist, found, or carefully chosen from vaults of archives in the New York Public Library. Like a photograph, these prints document a moment in time, and an object or text that has moved through time. While personal writings, notes, and letters by Alfred Steiglitz, John Cage, Emily Dickinson, Diane Arbus, or John Ashbery invite open ended narratives and glimpses into everyday histories, it is the materiality and wear witnessed on these pages – the marks, stains, folds, and subtle tears – that resonate with a certain poetry. This riddled topography acts as a handprint or map, a witness to the object’s movement over time and space, from hand-to-hand. The resulting works on paper are not so much a conservation record, mirror, or still life of something past, but a translation or portrait to be read in the present.
Printed on hefty, oversize Hahnemuhle cotton rag papers that accentuate the originals, the title of the series, Works on Paper plays with the formal visual art term, and the idea that the work is literally about paper. Kleitsch notes that with dozens of daily city papers folding across the country and screens hosting various modes of communication, a medium we’ve relied upon for millennia is coming to a close. Paper is an ordinary, democratic, everyday material, which while slowly fading from our routines, has been used for centuries to communicate ideas large and small.
By employing the contemporary process of scanography to reframe the residue of the everyday, the artist avoids conjuring only nostalgia, but rather opens an active space to reconsider history, the role of the object, and our current moment of access to endless, if not always accurate or edited information. In a time when communication is often hurried, typed and sent quickly via email or broadcast in the public/private space of Facebook and Twitter, rarely saved or printed out, Kleitsch’s body of work reframes a disappearing medium – paper – and the practice of placing thoughts to a physical page. Viewing these weathered pages makes the change in transmission – from page to screen – resonant and evident, but it also seems to ask what potential has been realized with expanded communication pathways, and equally what is at stake? As we communicate at an accelerated pace, what thought and focus remains in our exchanges? Has what, and how, we communicate also shifted?
In conjunction with the debut of this series, photographer and writer Tim Davis will present original new writing loosely inspired by the work on view, the palimpsest of paper, photography, and random heaps of language.
Chad Kleitsch was born in New Jersey in 1968, and currently lives and works in New York’s Hudson Valley. In addition to Works on Paper, Kleitsch has photographed the life of artworks behind the scenes of the museum in his series White Box, and used the scanner as camera in Botanicals. His work has been exhibited in solo and group shows at venues including The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT; Stephen Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles, CA; Ariel Meyerowtiz Gallery in NYC; Carrie Haddad Gallery in Hudson, NY; Yancey Richardson Gallery in NYC; The Art Institute of Chicago, IL: Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt.Tremper, NY; Mansfield University Art Gallery in PA; Time Space Limited in Hudson, NY; and Kanazwa College of Art, Japan. His work is held in collections at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, Mansfield University, Citibank, and private collections. Reviews of his work have appeared in Art News, The New York Times, Time Out, Fortune Magazine, and The New Yorker. Kleitsch has lectured at Yale University, Sarah Lawrence College, and taught at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, Columbia Greene College, and La Guardia College. He earned his BA in Photography from Bard College and is the recipient of a Merchant and Ivory Grant and CPW Photographer’s Fellowship Award.