Altered States: Press Release


It is early morning. I know this because of the weird orange halo creeping out from behind the gray edges of the cinder block lofts across the lot. I know this because of the harsh, primeval shrieks and chirps of the bird pair nesting outside my kitchen window. They make a noise like palsied windshield wipers or a one-on-one basketball game as performed by two giant men in new, unbelievably large shoes on a clean gymnasium floor. And I know it is morning because the cat is once again peering into the void of the bathtub drain. Staring intently into the blackness, like he is French. Like un chat. He has once again carefully removed the drain plate, so he can better view whatever it is he views in there. A private movie, or a meditation on apertures. A communion with all the other cats staring similarly into wet, mysterious holes across the planet, in search of the place from which all cats come.


Scattered across the gently sloping crust of the Earth’s façade, I imagine the nine artists in this show staring into similar holes. Nick Ackerman is lying in his bed, a perfect hologram in deep R.E.M. state. He dreams of neat grids of star clusters--massive clouds of interstellar gases. But the images are cleft and rent by transmission failures. Flickering visions altered by external stirrings which complicate these tentative notions of self and place, drowning them in secondary clouds of static and noise.


In my mind, Jen Liu has just left her Bushwick studio. There is that familiar clatter of metal roll-down doors and the descent down dark flights of stairs into the burgeoning brightness of the world. She wonders to herself what the hell kind of bird could be making that insane scritching sound as she unlocks her car door and flicks the ass-end of her cigarette into the street. It arcs beautifully and the orange ember merges briefly with the half-circle of the sun before plummeting back to the earth, extinguishing itself in a halting stammer of sparks. She breathes deeply and enters the vehicle which will transport her to her next environment, where she will dream of soft drinks and sinking ships.


Jon Santos is awake in his office, listening to music and preparing for the day. There is a pot of coffee brewing. The burps and gurgles syncopate, punctuating the music in a way he finds interesting and strangely familiar. He sings along to the song but with different words and he wonders where it is that they've come from.


Bert Bergen has spent the previous evening performing and recording music with friends. He will sleep for exactly thirty minutes, watch the second half of a wildlife documentary, and perform a minor psychic surgery on himself using a readily-available local anesthesia. In the next few hours following the surgery, he will be compelled to arrange all of the items in his kitchen into a perfect octagon.


Jay Erker and John Mills are asleep in their Oakland compound. Hours earlier, Jay pulled John away from his studio, forcing him to watch Rambo again, and John acceded with negligible dissent. They will awaken in the morning to find their apartment littered with a respectable number of beer cans, a tattered feather boa and some spent shell casings. Their pillows will be smudged and mottled with mysterious marks--stains of turpentine, smears of rouge, and violent, greasy slashes of black. They will emerge from the experience feeling more like themselves than ever before.


Yossi Zur is somewhere in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He has been awake for several hours practicing yoga with the lights on and is now preparing a curried porridge involving ginger, lemongrass, and some kind of a hearty legume. At exactly twelve-thirty this afternoon, he will transform pure light into a simulated object using only his eye and a digitizing prosthetic extension. The final product will cause him to wonder aloud if the era of the New Flesh has finally begun.


Reuben Lorch-Miller, as far as I can tell, has once again lifted the lid on the copy machine, ensnaring the world in the unsparing stream of radiance that spills out the window when the button is pushed. The machine will excrete a perfect black rectangle that is the exact color and shape of the universe.


And last but not least, there is Christian Maychack, who, as I imagine him at this very moment, is collapsed in a heap on the chaise lounge in our Gowanus studio with a creased copy of a Richard Dawkins book wedged between his slumbering body and the makeshift mattress that has been its temporary platform for the evening. There is sap on his fingers and sawdust in his hair.


--Jon-Paul Villegas



Altered states was curated by Jon-Paul Villegas and co-produced by Villegas and the artist, Yossi Zur.


The opening reception is Friday, June 26th from 6-10 p.m. and will run by appointment until July 14th 2009. To make an appointment, please contact Yossi Zur at 646-248-3345.

Altered States is:
Jay Erker, Christian Maychack, Jon Santos, Nick Ackerman, Jen Liu (with Marte Eknaes), John Mills, Yossi Zur, Reuben Lorch-Miller, and Bert Bergen



6/26/09 6-10 pm
138 Ludlow Street Apartment #18 (between Stanton and Rivington)
New York, NY 10002