Visual Arts Program

Saturday, November 1, 2008 — Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hallwalls Artist in Residence Project (HARP)

Jesse Webber

you can't smoke in here mr. corbusier, you'll burn this mother down

Jesse Webber - <em>you can't smoke in here mr. corbusier,  you'll burn this mother down</em>
Jesse Webber - <em>you can't smoke in here mr. corbusier,  you'll burn this mother down</em>
Jesse Webber - <em>you can't smoke in here mr. corbusier,  you'll burn this mother down</em>

Jesse Webber's new series of prints is an homage to the historic trip made by Le Corbusier to the industrial area now known as the American Rust Belt in the early 20th century. Le Corbusier, as well as other modernist architects, were drawn to these buildings as they exemplified the spirit of modernist architecture in its purest sense. Form derived from strict function—the building as a living machine. At the time of this trip, these areas enjoyed a boom of economic expansion at the top of newly emerging global markets. Upon seeing the grain elevators, Le Corbusier is reported to have exclaimed "The fruits of the modern era are upon us!" Corbusier did not forsee the depression and late-century decline that would eventually occur, nor could he have known that the particular open celled forms of these structures combined with grains that were stored in their interiors, and the gases and dust that they released, literally turned many of these grain elevators into architectural time bombs.

Webber's work is often based upon a re-conception of ideals and eventual actualities of design and cultural production. His response to the legacy of Western New York grain elevators is to project into (or ruminate upon) the realm of influence—the effect of this stark, austere architecture on modernist design. At the same time, Webber recognizes his own position as an artist in a world altered by the concept of design as art, and art as design. Operating from a further position, Webber's interest in in recognizing the simultaneous birth, ruin, and recycling of the lineage of Modernism.

In this new work Webber edits, deconstructs, recontextualizes, and ornaments appropriated black and white photographs taken by the architectural documentary photographers, Bernd and Hilla Becher. The addition of intensely-hued fluorescent "explosions" interact with the photo-derived elements in an attempt to complicate the relationship of art, architecture, design, and history. Webber's intention is not to document these buildings, as the Bechers have already accomplished this, but rather to use these photos as a ready-made armature upon which formal and theoretical implications can be made.

His interest resides in the fiction of a document—the aesthetic and conceptual alteration made by his own minimalist gestures function through the retrospective lens of the postmodern upon its predecessors. In applying gestural abstractions to the sourced imagery, Webber is defining a celebratory stance toward these iconic forms. His astute silkscreens and the large accompanying sculpture articulate that within each "document" or "artifact" remains and idealized, imaginative space of promise and possibility.

Jesse Webber interview from hallwalls on Vimeo.

Some publications related to this event:
November and December, 2008 - 2008
October, 2008 - 2008