Ficciones: Benjamin Lord, Ida Rödén, Merav Tzur

Ficciones - Lord - Roden - Tzur

opening reception for the artists Saturday, May 12, 6-9 pm
on view May 12 - June 16, 2012

“The metaphysicians of Tlön are not looking for truth, nor even for an approximation of it; they are after a kind of amazement. They consider metaphysics a branch of fantastic literature. They know that a system is nothing more than the subordination of all the aspects of the universe to some one of them.” –Jorge Luis Borges, "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” in Ficciones

Krowswork is very pleased to announce Ficciones: Benjamin Lord, Ida Rödén, Merav Tzur, opening May 12 and on view through June 16, 2012. Through tightly woven narratives, formal and rigorous methods, historicized alter egos, and scientifically structured documentation, each of these artists presents compelling aesthetic, literary, and historical evidence of a completely constructed reality. This imaginative maneuvering between truth and fiction results in an ambiguous yet accurate picture of our own place and time.

Benjamin Lord’s photographs purport to capture the phenomenon of phosphenes, perceptions of light generated within the human visual system itself. These images give formal, visual presence to a real but unphotographable experience through fabricated means—inverting the customary photographic process. The visions summoned in the prints are ascribed to a fictitious nineteenth-century explorer, created by the artist, whose possessions and writings are essayed in sculptural forms laid into a group of painted wooden trays. A large cast-plastic relief maps in detail the contours of an unfamiliar mountain range, whose geographer is the artist himself.

Ida Rödén presents the history of Margot Waltz, the Butterfly Lady. Waltz’s story is told from the perspective of the artist, now serving the role of reporter. To understand her subject Rödén lived for two weeks with three housemates whose interactions with Waltz, a sometime visitor in their home, had changed their own relationship to each other. A series of articles and dialogues with the tenants, some of which were published in The New Yorker and Cabinet, craft a portrait of Waltz, while helping us understand her untimely death and the mysterious Butterfly Bush that is the focal point of the memorial at the gallery. Rödén’s deft handling of a complexly layered narrative makes the illusion seamless and guides us to situate ourselves as a literal part of every story

Much of the artwork and research done by Merav Tzur is actually created by Sarah Gray, Tzur’s highly developed alter ego. For the duration of the show Sarah Gray’s Research Headquarters will be housed at the gallery, and scientific research will take place in the form of collection, identification, and archiving of material in an attempt to create a cohesive narrative and confirm the existence of her universe. Visitors to the Research Headquarters' Open Houses (May 12, 19, and June 1st) will be invited to engage with the scientists in residence and assist them with their "experiments." Tzur, through Gray, thwarts the constant need we feel to distinguish between fact and fiction, while facilitating genuinely creative human interactions that suggest holistic, absurd, and positive resolutions.

This exhibition is named after Ficciones, a famous collection of short stories by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges written mostly in the early 1940s but translated and discovered by the English-speaking world in the early 60s. The stories, in large part, employ a meta-narrative in which a previously unknown story or recently discovered history is casually yet matter-of-factly relayed, even as its plot is complete fantasy. The story is contextualized using scholarly citations and archival references that may or may not also be fabricated. Within these meta-stories, Borges makes almost constant allusion to the idea that any present reality is only one of an infinity of viable paths, which we have arbitrarily narrowed through language and symbol, thus calling attention to the structure of knowledge itself.

In 2012 Borges’s speculations seem more relevant than ever. In the age of the Internet, symbols’ organizing function diminishes as they lose all but their most specific meaning. Almost any information is readily accessible but often poorly organized. And, identity is constantly suspect: ironically in an age of no privacy reality has never been more able to be staged. Lord, Rödén, and Tzur represent the zeitgeist of our present, boundary-less existence in which reality and imagination co-mingle at will. By giving up dependence on the singularity of "artist" and instead taking on elaborated roles of anthropologist, scientist, historian or the like, these visual narrators make deliberate allusion to the mirrored infinity that we all face when attempting to describe twenty-first century reality.


Ficciones is the second of a three-show series that has been conceptualized in combination with the energy of specific literature texts. The first exhibition was Illuminations, after a collection of poetry by Arthur Rimbaud. Following Ficciones will be You Must Change Your Life, after the last line of a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke titled "Torso of an Archaic Apollo."