about the exhibition
Nathan Carter: THE COVERT CAVIAR FREQUENCY DISRUPTOR
New York, NY
October 25, 2007–January 20, 2008about the artist
Nathan Carter’s wall reliefs, sculptures, collages, and hanging objects are inspired by myriad aspects of contemporary society: modes of transportation, mass communication devices, sports insignias, and architecture for mass gatherings like stadiums and parade grounds. At once gestural and reductive, his works amplify strategies first explored by modernist artists in the early 20th century. Deeply rooted in a fascination with how visual abstract codes represent a means of abbreviated, if not universal, communication, Carter’s free-form compositions are simultaneously non-objective and referential.
Playful at first impression, Carter’s art contains allusions to mundane yet foreboding engagements, such as radio transmissions, encoded transcriptions, and other electronic communications that serve not only to link us to world networks, but also to place us under surveillance and deprive us of our privacy. Often our dependence on these tools and the despair that results from their failure to properly operate is a recurring leitmotif in his work.
Nathan Carter was born in Dallas, TX, in 1970 and currently lives and works in New York, NY. He received his MFA from Yale University, New Haven, CT, in 1999. He has had solo exhibitions at Galería Pilar Parra, Madrid (2007); Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York (2006, 2004, 2001); and Esther Schipper, Berlin (2006). He also participated in Art 33 Basel, Basel, Switzerland (2002). Selected group exhibitions include Neo Baroque, DA2 Centre of Contemporary Art of Salamanca, Spain (2005-06); Greater New York 2005, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY; and GNS, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2003).
about the exhibition
For his exhibition at Artpace, Carter has created several new bodies of work. Augmented by a selection of earlier objects, it offers the first occasion for the artist’s practice to be viewed
over a period of time extending back to 2002. The show opens with a group of thirteen airships, a project from 2006, in a formation that leads visitors up to the Hudson (Show)Room. Along the way, Artpace’s conference room has been colonized by three new pieces that constitute a concise statement of Carter’s current work: an oversized collage, a complex wood relief, and a monochromatic sculptural drawing in steel. Each of these works indicates the artist’s reliance on the discipline of drawing, whether linear or modular. In TRANSATLANTIC RADIO AND VISUAL SIGNALS FOR BLACKED OUT HEAVIES (2007), a successful example of the recent introduction of photography into his work, the combination of collage and line results in a composition that is structurally comparable to the wood relief IMPROVISED PIRATE RADIO ANTENNA (HANDMADE KITCHEN UTENSILS) (2007) and the sculpture MILAN SUBSTATION THROWING SIGNS SIGNALING DOLOMITE WEATHER DISTURBANCE (2007). In all the works, dense cacophony and brevity coexist in a fragile state of detente.
The installation in the Hudson (Show)Room offers a broader perspective on how Carter’s work has evolved. The earliest piece in the show, THE TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILROAD HAS FOUND A NEW WAY THROUGH THE SNOW (2002), is the first wood relief the artist ever made. In it one senses a tentative quality that implies experimentation and discovery, both formal and structural. Compare this object to the virtuoso ATMOSPHERIC DISTURBANCE BARENTS SEA WHERE DID ALL THESE BIRDS COME FROM? (2007), the artist’s most ambitious relief, whose lyrical quality and formal clarity announce his command of the medium. Equally heroic in scale is TRAVELING LANGUAGE MACHINE WITH #3 FREQUENCY DISRUPTOR AND DISINFORMATION NUMBERS STATION (2007), which was made at Artpace. A tangled web of steel, forged and bent into a three-dimensional line drawing, it exemplifies the artist’s tendency to improvise: things conceived to fit together often get slightly remade during their installation, placing them in a constant state of potential reconfiguration or improvement.
Carter’s work takes a new direction in the group of three makeshift radio devices and the assemblage
of found and altered readymades that comprise COVERT CATASTROPHIC INCIDENT KIT (2007). References to emblems and commercial signage found in his earlier projects have now given way to their direct incorporation. The photograph here is almost a blueprint of how these pieces might be assembled and used. And the double view of art and technology as equally rough and ready practices is both ironic and absolutely serious. It forms the balanced Yin and Yang that lies at the
core of Carter’s work as an artist.
-Matthew Drutt, Executive Director