Friday, March 18
Document is pleased to present Substitution Play, a new body of work by Sterling Lawrence. The exhibition opens on March 18th, 2016 with a reception from 5-8pm, and will continue through May 7th, 2016.
“I have tried several times to think of an apartment in which there would be a useless room, absolutely and intentionally useless. It wouldn’t be a junkroom, it wouldn’t be an extra bedroom, or a corridor, or a cubby-hole or a corner. It would be a functionless space. It would serve for nothing, relate to nothing.
For all my efforts, I found it impossible to follow this idea through to the end. Language itself, seemingly, proved unsuited to describing this nothing, this void, as if we could only speak of what is full, useful, and functional.”
–George Perec, “The Apartment,” Species of Spaces
With Substitution Play, Lawrence deepens his inquiry into objects that crest the horizon of usefulness, casting their silhouette against the land of human interaction with things. Indeterminate and in flux, these objects embody elements of applied function—the forms and materials that tell you to pick something up, to put it in your home, to hang a jacket on it, or to use it to eat. And yet, Lawrence steers these directives toward other, less conclusive ends. Working across sculpture, printmaking, textiles, painting and installation, Lawrence parses the vocabularies of use-value, breaking them down and recombining them within individual objects and across space. Where Perec’s contemplations of a useless space leave him at a loss for language, so do Lawrences’ works approach an unknown—the momentary inability to understand, or name, what you are confronted with. This tenuous, disquieting, and liberating encounter is one of the great potentials opened up by Sterling Lawrence’s work: the possibility of feeling into the emergence of a new relationship, with its own particular negotiation and evolution. For the object themselves, this is substitution play on another scale, where with each turn of imagination, they are cast in a new light.
Sterling Lawrence received his BFA (2007) and MFA (2011) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Lawrence has had solo exhibitions with Devening Projects and Tony Wight Gallery in Chicago. He has been included in group exhibitions at Scotty Enterprises in Berlin, Soloway in New York, Columbia College in Chicago, Devening Projects, and New Capital via Forever and Always in Chicago.