23 Essex Street
Beverly, MA 01915
M, T, W, F, 10am–5pm
Thursday, January 21
Featuring: Liz Jaff, Jon Kuzmich, Aaron Meyers, Jenny O’Dell, Rachel Perry
Curated by Associate Curator of Exhibitions and Programs, Pam Campanaro, I Will Go On… exhibits artists whose practices parallel the characteristics of a marathoner: endurance, repetition, and focus. Each artist on view employs repetitive, laborious acts such as: drilling tiny holes into wood until it breaks, painting with a needlepoint, compulsively collecting, or meticulously hand-cutting paper to demonstrate precise focus.
By bringing to light each artist’s exceptional endurance and devotion to their process, Campanaro reveals the bridge between artist as maker and artist as “marathoner.” Preparing for a marathon requires a specific type of conditioning; a kind of training that syncs the physicality of doing and mental stimulus that tells you to keep pressing on. A runner’s training looks a lot like an artist in their studio: They too devote a substantial amount of time to the physicality of doing or making, while the conceptual or mental facets of the work are equally essential in seeing a project through.
Inspired by a passage from Samuel Beckett’s novel The Unnamable, the exhibition title I Will Go On… references a climactic moment in which the author converses with himself repeating, “You must go on, that’s all I know. You must go on. I can’t go on. You must go on. I’ll go on.” Beckett’s struggle is identical to the physical and psychological battle a runner faces during the final miles of a marathon. In the end, true marathoners repeat the process and fine tune their practice in pursuit of different results. The artists exhibiting in I Will Go On… follow suit in that all of the works on view are continuations or adaptations of ongoing projects “running their course.”
Liz Jaff pushes the structure, or “body” of paper to its limits by manipulating its formal and physical qualities. In its third iteration, “Plugs and Fuses” (2015) spans twenty-six feet of gallery wall. Originally a single sheet of white paper, Jaff cuts vertical strips, twisting them downward into long coils with circles half cut out of each strand.
Jon Kuzmich’s paintings are evenly paced and well tempoed, like that of a seasoned marathoner. Using only a needlepoint as his brush to apply up to four million marks, Kuzmich translates economic data into visual systems that aesthetically reference characteristics of Op-art, Pointilism, and abstraction. Aaron Meyers illustrates the bridge between sculpture and performance in his infinite performance “It Must Be Nearly Finished” (2012-ongoing). Now in its sixth iteration, Meyers continually drills 1/16” holes into the surface of a wooden plank bracketed to the gallery wall until he falls. Jenny O’Dell collects online imagery, escalating the traditional practice of archiving in that not only does she research the “life” of an object, but creates a place for it permanently be “suspended” using augmented reality. Now researching the discarded, unwanted object, O’Dell founded the Bureau of Suspended Objects- an ongoing, one-person organization and archive created during a residency at the Recology dump in San Francisco. Rachel Perry is the ultimate marathoner. She obsessively and repetitively collects aspects of her own life ranging from bread tags and twist ties to voice messages left on her answering machine. Like O’Dell who uses the digital frontier, Perry’s “Twitter Project” (2009-ongoing) captures and archives the daily life of an artist using the social media platform Twitter in exactly one hundred forty characters.