No Fixed Address: Seth Price at Eden Eden, Berlin
By TRAVIS JEPPESEN, JULY 2014
The bulk of Seth Price’s recent Berlin exhibition consisted of seven painterly compositions on plywood depicting the backs of envelopes. Rips and tears inflicted by impatient recipients endow these subjects with the trace or hint of a narrative. Letter from Inside/Out, 2014, is set against a black background; the envelope has been torn open, and the tear takes the shape of a man’s fuzzy head. In Totem in Perspective, 2012, the plywood canvas itself has been ripped and points downwards like an arrow; the PAYCHEX logo comprises the repeated motif on the interior of the envelope.
These envelopes are portraits – modern carrier pigeons of finance and secrets. The most startling of these is an untitled work from 2014, announcing itself with the rawness of its unpainted background that leaves the plywood exposed, bare, evincing not so much the hardness of its substance as a resonant pang of sorrow and desolation. The depicted envelope has been opened and is pointing upside down, its lip painted blue, its interior black; a slighter tear resides in its right gut. Its white body has been smudged with fingertips: use and discard. Body without soul.
This is the exhibition inaugurating Isabella Bortolozzi’s new space, Eden Eden, a bizarre unrenovated house located at a slight remove from the Potsdamer Strasse gallery district. In a creepy basement below the gallery’s main floor, two of Price’s earlier video works were shown in a room with wood-paneled walls and white patterned carpeting. The longer of the two, Feeling in the Eyes, 2002, consists of fast-moving slides of snazzy tacky living room interiors presumably taken from ‘70s and ‘80s design magazines showcasing late Space Age camp – a Beverly Hills inferno – to the soundtrack of demented droney electronic music Price composed. Perhaps these are the unknown destinations for the envelopes, the addresses that are hidden from view, each image, like the paintings, a fleeting sign of an isolated world eerily bereft of human presence – and somehow liberated in being so.
Travis Jeppesen's novels include The Suiciders, Wolf at the Door, and Victims. He is the recipient of a 2013 Arts Writers grant from Creative Capital/the Warhol Foundation. In 2014, his object-oriented writing was featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial and in a solo exhibition at Wilkinson Gallery in London. A collection of novellas, All Fall, is forthcoming from Publication Studio.view all articles from this author