Contemporary Art Daily, Michael Queenland at Maureen Paley, London, 19 April 2023
Brooklyn Rail, Michael Queenland: Rudy’s Ramp of Remainders Redux, Toby Kamps, 4 April 2023
Artforum, Must See: Michael Queenland: Rudy’s Ramp of Remainders Redux, Maureen Paley, 25 March 2023
Pepperdine University, Pepperdine Libraries to Present Artist Talk with Michael Queenland, 15 March 2023
Maureen Paley is pleased to announce a new exhibition by Michael Queenland. This will be his second solo exhibition at the gallery and his first presented at 60 Three Colts Lane.
‘I learned how to make things from my father. He had his own business as a general contractor. I spent a lot of my childhood on jobs with him building bathrooms, bedroom additions, and laying foundations. He never threw anything away. He kept remnants of materials from other jobs that seemed completely useless, but at some point, he would find a use for them, even if it was to mix a small batch of concrete on top of them.
Maybe it was a remaining ethic of coming from a country where resources were scarce, and things had to be made from bits and pieces, and repurposed. Somewhere between California and Jamaica, I straddled the cultural imaginary from scarcity and repurposing, to surplus and excess.
Rudy’s Ramp of Remainders is an English translation of Rudis Resterampe, the name of a now defunct German dollar surplus store in Berlin that I discovered when I lived there for a year from 2009–2010. The name of the store translates in English to Rudy’s Pile of Leftovers, or Rudy’s Ramps of Remainders. A year after I moved back to the USA in 2010, I began to make my own version of a ‘ramp of remainders.’
This ongoing work, first shown in 2012 at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, is a sculptural interpretation of a ’store’ or inventory of remainders, made up of consumable goods, found, and hand made things, or some combination of all. Each grouping of work is a ‘ramp’ – a collection of things grouped together in a delineated space, often, but not always on the ground.
The balloon sculptures are surrogates – vessels, bodies, and voids altogether. They are made by hand, cast in plastic on the inside, and a latex balloon on the outside. They are an abstract intermediary between the physical and the metaphysical, the material and the immaterial, between the inside and the outside.
The first ramp began in 2011, when I got a subscription of the paper edition of the New York Times. Reading the newspaper every day, I started to notice each time an image of a dead body was published. From 2011 through 2013, the published images were mostly coming from the wars in Syria and Afghanistan. It was strange to see an image of the body of a victim of war next to an advertisement of a Chanel bag on the same page.
The Cereal Ramp was the second ramp I made, accumulated from the supermarket over a period of several months. It included all the available brands from the four major cereal companies: Kellogg’s, General Mills, Post and Quaker. It was an intuitive response to the newspaper clippings in presenting a different kind of consumable image, not of loss, but of excess.
Because we know the way the world, commerce, and media works, we might take this unsaid equivalence for granted, doing the second-hand mental work to separate these kinds of images from each other in our mind, but I wondered what unconscious effect this had and what that might look like physically.
To slow down and counter this abstraction, I began to cut out these images to acknowledge the violence and to have some kind of physical and tactile interaction to make it more real. Much of the work is about finding ways of relating to the world and relating to the effects of images on our perception of the world beyond our physical reach.
At some point, this act of cutting and saving these images became formalized into a work when I started to scan the newspaper clippings and print them so that both the front side and the back side of the same clipping could be seen simultaneously on the same page. Some of the juxtapositions of images were jarring, but seemed to reflect some truth about the extremities of realities that define this particular time in the USA and the world.
I began to explore these extremities materially and thematically in other ramps by the proximity of one kind of thing to another kind of thing. Proximity of one kind of cheap material to a more refined material; something from the East with something from the West; proximity of something like food to the floor.
The ramp is arranged differently each time it is shown, but each grouping highlights certain Western archetypes in its arrangement – the archetypes of the deity, the emperor, or the athlete – the three types of statues/images most commonly represented and reproduced in Roman and Grecian culture. In place of deities on the cereal boxes are cartoon characters; celebrities for emperors; and athletes remaining the same.
The wall works are recreations of heavy-duty plastic ‘contractor’ trash bags with parts of the bag cut out. It uses the shape of the trash bag as an abstraction. For this show, the bag is further abstracted by remaking it as an image of itself in a different material.’
Michael Queenland, 2023
Michael Queenland (b. 1970, Pasadena, California) currently lives and works in Los Angeles.
In 2016, Queenland received the Rome Prize and was a fellow at the American Academy in Rome from 2016–2017.
Solo exhibitions include Rudy’s Ramp of Remainders 2012/2022, Visual Arts Center, Austin, Texas, USA, 2022; Rudy’s Ramp of Remainders, The Santa Monica Museum of Art (now ICA-LA), 2012; The M.O.R.L., LA><ART, Los Angeles, 2007; Michael Queenland: Photographs, Sculptures and Shaker Classics, Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art and The Massachusetts College of Art, 2005.
Selected group exhibitions include Foundations of the Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2019; Searching the Sky for Rain, Sculpture Center, Long Island City, New York, USA, 2019, Made In LA, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2018; Stories of Almost Everyone, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2017; The Whitney Biennial, New York, 2008; Frequency, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, 2005.
Michael Queenland was Assistant Professor of Sculpture at the Yale School of Art from 2010–2016.