Threshing Floors

Featuring projects by Jules Gimbrone, Essex Olivares, Kabir Carter, Bill Dietz and Mary Walling Blackburn
Curated by Natasha Marie Llorens, with Natasha Hoskins

Exhibition Dates:
 May 2 through May 31, 2015
Gallery Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 12-6pm
Location: 120 Essex Street NY, NY 10002 (inside Essex Street Market)


Pre-industrial European villages usually had a commonly-owned area where grain was pounded from its sheaf called a threshing floor. This was a transitional space where objects changed shape through rhythmic physical effort, or through some collective movement that was indissolubly sonic.

Threshing Floors is an exhibition project in five parts that takes this historical space as a point of departure. The wish is to stage a series of propositions about the relationship between sound and its material vehicle, or its sheaf. Sound and the body. Sound and the microphone. Sound and the ground. Perhaps these elements cannot be threshed, perhaps the project will wish in vain. Perhaps the viewer will will get lost in the movement and forget about the task of threshing altogether.

Jules Gimbrone, Essex Olivares, Kabir Carter, Bill Dietz, and Mary Walling Blackburn will each occupy Cuchifritos Gallery in the Essex Street Market on  New York’s Lower East Side for between four and six days.

Jules Gimbrone — May 2 – May 6
Essex Olivares — May 8 – May 12
Kabir Carter — May 13 – May 17
Bill Dietz — May 19 – May 24 (Daily exercises)
Daniel Bertalot / Mary Walling Blackburn — May 26 – May 31 (Daily performances)

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C U R A T O R I A L   N O T E

Seven artists in five blocks of time. One gathering after the other. Rotating through the space, drawing people into it, releasing them after the sound has ebbed. This project begins with three curatorial propositions, which are described below in order of occurrence. This is not a score, this is a list.

In China Miéville’s novel Embassytown, aliens and humans try to live together on a planet at the very edge of the immer, a substance that demarcates the known universe. The aliens speak in an untranslatable language, one absolutely without metaphor. Every word is spoken as testimony to an alien’s actual experience of the world—thus, for these creatures human speech strays too far from an expression of what is to be intelligible. It only becomes possible to communicate between species when empathically gifted children, who are raised from birth to think as one and elaborately trained in a multi-tone phonetics, speak separate registers of the alien tongue simultaneously. Two humans speak as one and together they embody the gap between The Real and Representation, and by embodying it as a pair they displace it somehow. In such a world, the voice must be a perfect mirror to its speaker(s)’s experience.

Also: One speaker of any pair who learns to speak the alien language cannot survive in any emotionally deep sense without their partner. If one dies the other is socio-psychically mutilated by the breach, because the breach avows the possibility of an interval between sound and the Real.

We were talking about language; Morris was talking about language and about the moment that it slips from its purely semiotic function and becomes violent.[1] The moment the voice destroys the social being of another person, or causes that person, their body, and their speech to fall out of any meaningful form of recognition. Magical incantation, curses, accusations, hate speech. These kinds of words, when spoken, do not stay within the rhetorical bounds of rational discourse. They seek instead to explode the interval between any such discourse and violence.

But there is also song, Morris reminded us. Song is a form of speech the meaning of which cannot be reduced to whatever it happens to utter in language. The voice in song and the voice enraged and the voice enchanted, all of these are instances in which sound is profoundly in excess of its material sheaf, its rhetorical or phenomenological body. Further: in such moments the interval between the body and sound is so wide, so loud, that a blur appears at the seams of the structures that language makes.

A threshing floor is an imaginary place for me, like a planet at the edge of the universe. The use of it here as a metaphor for spatialized collective effort is not an attempt to romanticize agrarian labor, or to suggest that artists are workers in the same sense as were pre-industrial farmers and peasants. I borrow the idea with the understanding that I am mostly talking about a mythical, structural model, rather than a historical condition.

That said: I am interested in the idea of an exhibition as a space where work is done, where objects and bodies take their places together for a moment in order to do something, and then disperse. The threshing floor is an interesting model for this idea because although it was commonly held land each individual family brought their own grain to be threshed. It was not a strict rotation, since neighbors and allies would lend their bodies to one or the other’s threshing. So, this ground became a place to perform the complex socius of local politics. I would like an exhibition to be able to do this as well.

[1]:Professor Rosalind C. Morris, lecturing during her seminar ACCUSATION, in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, spring 2014.

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Jules Gimbrone approaches sound and composition through architectural, sculptural and choreographic interplay. Concerned with a tension between conceptual systems and their inevitable demise, the container and the contained, the visual and the sonic, Gimbrone’s work exposes multiple failures and queerings of the performative and pre-formative body. For Gimbrone, sound is more methodology than medium. Gimbrone “makes noise-detectives and sonic snoops, audio trills and booms, seeking out the corner of a room with spatial intent. Gimbrone’s sound searches for borders of confinement and pushes through, beyond, under and around, taking up physical space and creating new space as it moves. The work quite literally inhabits places yet to be charted. Sound for Gimbrone is the most radical of mediums. Unlike water, which changes form yet remains a physical element, or earth, which is always solid, sound can mimic, shroud, lull, electrify, frighten and most of all, travel. (Niki Darling, ARTBound 2014)” Gimbrone co-created, and curates Pack Projects, an art-music collective based in New York City and Los Angeles. Gimbrone’s work has been shown at venues including; LA><ART, FLAX Fahrenheit, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, FOCA LA, VOX Populi, Human Resources LA, ISSUE Project Room, 3LD Art & Technology Center, MOMA PS 1, Socrates Sculpture Park, The Performance Project, and Cameo Gallery. Gimbrone recently received a MFA from CalARTS in 2014.

Essex Olivares are an artist duo of Eve Essex (lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) and Juan Antonio Olivares (lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany). Selected exhibitions include ‘Columbidae’, Cell Project Space, London, ‘The Chicago Effect: Redefining the Middle’, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, ‘The String and the Mirror’, Lisa Cooley Gallery, NYC, and ‘In Practice: Chance Motives’, at SculptureCenter, Long Island City, where they launched a newly commissioned iPhone app, ‘Incorporate’.

Kabir Carter’s work moves between performance and installation, and operates on architectural forms and urban environments to produce expanded perceptual experiences. Recent works include a suite of performances blurring physical and acoustic boundaries between body, architecture, and microphone diaphragms (Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art and GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst Bremen, 2014); an airborne and structure-borne sound installation for a museum elevator (Tang Museum, 2011); participating in the reconfiguration and presentation of Maryanne Amacher’s sonic work (daadgalerie, 2012); and collaborating with Simon Leung, Yvonne Rainer, and others on the performance work ACTIONS! (The Kitchen, 2013). He has received awards from Bergen Kommune, Danish Arts Council, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur, among others. Currently, Carter has been invited by the Museet for Samtidskunst (Roskilde) to present the Working Group for Sound in the Expanded Field, a discursive project that uses workshops and other sound focused activities to examine sound’s role in daily life. He holds an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College, where he was a Joseph Hartog Fellow.

Bill Dietz has lived and worked in Berlin since 2003. From sounding the facade of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation in Marseille, to orchestrating echoes across city blocks in Manhattan, to projecting sonified architectural models onto audiences, his work examines the genealogy of the concert and the performance of listening. Since 2007 he is the artistic director of Ensemble Zwischentöne, and is currently the Co-Chair of Music/Sound in Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts. In 2013 he co-founded Ear │ Wave │ Event with Woody Sullender. His artistic, curatorial, interpretive, and theoretical work, has brought him to festivals such as MaerzMusik, through museums such as the Hamburger Bahnhof and Tate Modern, to podiums at academic symposia such as the International Congress for Music Research, and into publications such as Performance Research Journal and the catalogue of the 2014 Whitney Biennial. He has worked extensively with Peter Ablinger, Catherine Christer Hennix, Chris Newman, Christian von Borries, and through 2009 with Maryanne Amacher. In 2011 he was the recipient of a working fellowship at the Künstlerhaus Lukas in Ahrenshoop and a residency fellowship from the Goethe Institute in New York, from 2012 to 2013 he was a resident fellow of the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, and in 2013 he was artist-in-residence of the Cité radieuse in Marseille, as well as gmem – centre national de la création musicale. In 2015, Edition Solitude released a monograph on his composed listenings entitled 8 Tutorial Diversions, 2009-2014.

Mary Walling Blackburn, artist, in lieu of a bio, has provided a record of sound-related search terms (with their correlative number of searches within that category) that led online users to her website: Search Terms for 365 days ending 2015-04-14 (Summarized) ( April 14, 2015, 3:30 pm Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 8.13.03 PM

Natasha Marie Llorens is an independent curator and writer based in New York. Her most recent projects include  “Frames of War,” at Momenta Art in Bushwick and “Sex objects, dead zones, and trace fossils” with Mary Walling Blackburn for BOMB Magazine Online. She teaches art history and theory at The Cooper Union and curating at Eugene Lang. She is a graduate of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and a Ph.D. candidate in art history at Columbia University. Her academic research is focused on violence and representation in the 1970s and 1980s.

Natasha Hoskins is completing her BA in Arts in Context with a concentration in Visual Studies and Culture and Media at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts. On a good day she is a painter and will be included in the Ruach exhibit in Chelsea this May. Hoskins is the assistant to independent curator and writer Natasha Marie Llorens. Most recently assisting Lloren’s on “Frames of War,” at Momenta Art in Bushwick. She lives and works in New York City. Additionally, she enjoys short walks on the beach and back to back episodes of Broad City.

Image: Jules Gimbrone, Rooms, Junk, and Other Forces, 2015. Photo by Dorothée Thébert Filliger

Threshing Floors is made possible in part with public funds from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Cuchifritos is FREE to the public and handicap accessible. Located inside Essex Street Market at the south end nearest Delancey. Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space is a program of Artists Alliance Inc., a 501c3 not for profit organization located on the Lower East Side of New York City within the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center. Cuchifritos is supported in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. This program is made possible by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. We thank the following for their generous support: Marie and John Zimmermann Fund, New York City Economic Development Corporation and individual supporters of Artists Alliance Inc. Special thanks go to our team of dedicated volunteers, without whom this program would not be possible.