Standard Forms
April 3 - 24, 2016
Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Artists: VALIE EXPORT, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Francisco-Fernando Granados, Julio César Morales, Robert Morris, Ulrike Müller, and Martha Rosler

The non-citizen (or one who finds their citizenship called into question) exists in the shadow of the contemporary nation-state. Constituting both the figure against which the citizen may be produced, and that which resists standard forms of governance, the non-citizen is the preemptive target of mechanisms of surveillance, coercion, and control. By deploying advanced biopolitical technologies—such as biometric databases and facial recognition software—the nation-state is increasingly adept at capturing, and thus disarming, unknown bodies. In order to avoid violence, the non-citizen must elude apprehension at the very moment they are most insistently called to appear.

The works shown in Standard Forms prioritize the abstract, the non-figurative, and the indexical over mimetic representation of the human body. In utilizing these formal strategies, the works mask, obscure, or leave the body out. While only a selection considers the non-citizen directly, each offers vital modes of seeing or thinking the figure as it is edged by predominant norms, systems, and standards. In presenting these works together, the exhibition offers a phenomenology of embodiment that rejects the violence of the scopic.

Shape and line figure largely in the works of Standard Forms, repurposing legacies of abstraction, minimalism, and conceptualism. Within the exhibition, such forms often come to stand in for, or point to the body. In place of a figure, we find a blank, a trace, an outline. Form emerges as a politics which inhibits the standardization and ontological capture of the non-citizen by the nation-state. And yet, the body can be glimpsed between the lines and from the edges, though remaining inapprehensible and just out of frame. If the non-citizen is signified beyond the fingerprint or the face, what agency, what forms and shapes might emerge?

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