Collaboration with Francisco-Fernando Granados
Doran Gallery at MassArt, Boston
1. We each bring what can fit in a single suitcase, plus anything we scavenge after we arrive.
2. Only one of us in the gallery at a time.
3. We grant each other consent to alter each other's work, as we see fit.
4. The exhibition will constantly change. It is never complete.
5. Anyone can visit at any time.
Vers manifests a decade of conversation and collaboration between artists Jonathan VanDyke (NYC) and Francisco-Fernando Granados (Toronto). An evolving and site-specific improvisation at the Doran Gallery, the artists work with raw materials gathered from their respective studios and found around the MassArt campus on alternate days. The two never coincide physically in the gallery but continuously engage with one another through the material traces of their actions. They build and rebuild ephemeral assemblages together, yet at a distance, freely adding and taking away from the other's work: a non-verbal dialogue of compositions, forms, signs, and symbols. Vers is a living artwork, a correspondence, a negotiation, a power play, a flirtation, a relationship.
VanDyke and Granados work at the intersection of performance and painterly practice, with the former especially focused on gestural mark-making, and the latter on geometric abstraction. Through Vers, they enact a queering of patriarchal notions of individual authorship and push against the idea of the artwork as fixed and complete. Their work reframes strategies from avant-garde movements that have sought to counter the mainstream art market's logic of consumption. Here, the artwork is not an imposition on the audience or the sum of its materials: rather, it provides a model for creative play, making something within and out of what is already in place. As a studio-based methodology, Vers takes its cues from queer forms of embodiment that reject fixed hierarchies and stable roles. The installation unfolds through a slippery process in which each artist has the opportunity to be both submissive and dominating, or both or neither, to code switch and “find” each other without ever being physically present at the same time.
In their respective interdisciplinary practices, both artists’ have focused upon abstraction as a means of communication that is preverbal, in which a story has not been set in words, or an explanation has not yet been articulated. Listening through the body and reacting sensorially act as methodologies for uncovering stories and traumas that are deeply felt and remain unclear and unresolved. This method carries special resonance for those communicating across languages and across differences of age, ability, racial identity, and ancestry, manifesting as an installation that carries the spirit of queer liberation and asks for more equitable access to cultural space.