When presented with a set of variables aimed toward some uncertain end it’s an increasingly common solution to simply default to the collective wisdom of an all-knowing search engine. Or if out one’s depths, to pose this unfamiliarity first to a digital circle of friends, family, and acquaintances in the hope that some sort of like-based acclamation occurs before a more rigorous investigation is required. But whether this is done collectively in the open or in silence and alone, a decision is required before the action can proceed. How do we visualize the weighing of options? Before all possible outcomes are plugged into a clickbait listicle and ranked, what do the operations involved in these determinations look like? And if revealed, what vulnerability is found in this exposed unsured-ness?
In Carl Marin’s To build a fire the potential for a variety of solutions to a single problem is made explicit. Four arrangements of sticks are positioned throughout the gallery, each a unique bundle of kindling awaiting a future flame. Their construction varies from the simple stacking of largest to smallest, to the more unusual approach of isolating and displaying specific stick sizes. Each of these configurations are the result of a prompt Marin sent to three sets of participants, in which he instructed them to intuitively arrange and weld a set of fourteen cast aluminum sticks in a formation they believed would catch fire. The prompts were sent in turn, first to a group of students attending the technical school at which Marin learned to weld, then to a colleague from undergrad who is herself now a welder, and finally to Marin’s former welding instructor. Here the decision is left to another, though Marin has also assembled one final fire starter kit himself. In To build a fire the potential for what is to be what isn’t assumes the form of that primary human activity, the building of a fire, each variant revealing a present that would be otherwise.
In the paintings of Veronika Pausova the revelation of these processes also comes through careful looking. Working from an evolving visual lexicon that includes ears, hands, oranges, and shopping bags, Pausova’s compositions are deliberately constructed one object at a time, placed and rearranged in an effort to reconcile their precise rendering with the limits of the canvas. There arrangement happens in stops and starts, one placement sets off a whole series of others that must be resolved with the whole before another set might begin. Through operations of choice and chance a three dimensional space emerges that belies the flatness of the support, while also revealing the finitude of that structure. Upon close inspection these decisions are all revealed and the hand of the painter that is denied in the paint’s application emerges instead as the hand that decides what to cover, what to crop, what to hide or expose.
When in the studio and faced with an empty canvas, or on a cold night with only a bundle twigs, or when faced with any other problem that might require some sort of a solution, an initial decision from which all others will proceed is necessary. The succession of choices that follow can evolve as a linear narrative, or take on more abstract or recursive forms, but regardless of their formal composition each decision will open a new series of paths onward, while also closing others off. In hindsight a logic, or illogic, will always be revealed, and in this revelation we find the contingency of a world that might have been otherwise, or simply not at all.
Carl Marin earned an an MFA in Sculpture & Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University (2013) and a BFA in Sculpture and Painting from Tyler School of Art (2007). He was a recipient of the College Art Association Professional Development Fellowship (2013), and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2012). Marin was the recipient of a Philadelphia Percent for Art Commission (2014). He has had a solo show at FLUXspace, Philadelphia, PA (2011) and has been included in group shows at Sediment Gallery, Richmond, VA (2015), Kingston Sculpture Biennial, Kingston, NY (2015), Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, NY (2014), VCU Sculpture MFA Alumni Exhibition, New York, NY (2014), Virtual Public Art Project, ActivatAR (2014), and the ICA Open Video Call, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA (2012).
Veronika Pausova was born in Prague, Czech Republic and lives and works in Toronto, Canada. Pausova received her BFA from Glasgow School of Art in 2009 and her MFA in painting from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2013. Recent solo exhibitions include Forest House, Tatjana Pieters, Ghent, Belgium; Elope by Mere Thread, Páramo Galeria, Guadalaja Mexico; Chests in the Current, Motel Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; and Testing the Waters, SARDINE Gallery, Brooklyn, NY. Selected group exhibitions include: Sojourner Truth Parsons, Sean Steadman, Veronika Pausova, 11R, New York; Gesture Play, Simone Subal, New York; Seek Professional Help, Bureau, New York; NYC Painters, Páramo, Guadalajra; NYC Painters el Museo de los Pintores Oaxaqueños (MUPO), Oaxaca.