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From Many, One

October 20, 2020 - Jan 9 2021

 

A year ago, this exhibition was conceived as election themed, a celebration of the democratic process. A year ago, there was no Covid-19. A year ago, this exhibition was conceived as being hopeful for a return to long-established norms. A year ago, there was no Covid-19. Now, this exhibition aspires to be a measure for the mending of our society’s frayed fabric.

Each work in the exhibition is greater than the sum of its parts. Each work is an aggregate of many small things that form a larger, cohesive whole. Each work finds beauty in bounty and the connection of components. Things are accumulated, woven, or bonded by the dozens, hundreds, or thousands, and then transformed by this association. As a humble visual metaphor, this does not begin to hint at the creative configurations that the artists and designers have achieved.

Obvious aggregation within each object, and even the aggregation of the objects themselves, makes a case for the power and benefits cohesion can provide. Cohesion requires practice, patience, and planning, as well as balance and moderation.  This is as true of society as it is for the objects in the exhibition. In society, complex cohesion can truly only be achieved through democracy. Long the presumptive standard bearer of democracy, the American government’s motto rings hollow lately: “From Many, One”. Our society is tattered and torn, it is vexed with violence, distortion, and disease. It is barely a democracy. Its cohesion is undermined by gross economic imbalance, a rotten judiciary, and a manipulated electoral system. It risks a ruinous unravelling.

 

 

 

This exhibition proffers a path to elude entropy, it accentuates the achievements of an organized, complex, and technologically enabled society. The very existence of the careers of the sixteen international artists and designers working in onerous, obscure, and odd processes, is a testament to what we can do together. That this work was made in merely months, and shipped from around the world, attests to our successful intricate integrated networks of industry, transportation, and finance. We have collectively constructed this through diminutive daily decisions to support the society we inhabit.

You create this beauty when you decide to pay taxes instead of opening an offshore account or shell company, when you pay your lowliest workers a living wage, when you vote. You destroy it when you hire a lobbyist to distort laws to your narrow benefit, when you buy an SUV that is exempt from passenger vehicle fuel standards because it pretends to be a 'farm truck', when you buy bottled water. Many small decisions aggregate to form your character, and all the characters aggregates to form our society. If we are rotten, our society is rotten.

Some of us are more responsible for the rot than others. With disproportionate reward comes disproportionate responsibility and risk. To the patron class, the 1% who have perverted our economy, our politics, and our environment - j’accuse. No one is born more deserving, they are born more fortunate, and in our system, good fortune accumulates exponentially. Hoarding unspendable wealth that the system channeled to you is undemocratic. Living a lifestyle more environmentally damaging than the extended families of all your housekeepers combined is indefensible. Being rich has not earned you the right to immorality. Wealth does not buy a separate standard of ethics. You cannot trump morals with money

 

 

 

 

This exhibition commends cohesion and the beauty the bond brings. The sickness is class isolation, the cure lies in improving the interconnection. Put your drawbridge down, leave your castles in the Hamptons and come back to your TriBeCa triplex. Thousands of people and families depend on the paltry trickle-down you provide to beauty spas and bodegas, dry cleaners and dog walkers – and galleries too. If you sacrifice them to buy yourself the implausible illusion of protection that you imagine your castles provide, there will be a price to pay when the fabric unravels.

‘From many one’ has devolved into much for few, and little for most. When the wealthy withdraw, it undermines the warp and weft. When one-twentieth sequesters two-thirds of America’s wealth, when the few tug the thread away, the many will pull back. Proportionately progressive taxation, the kind the United States once had, and is standard to stable countries, will become an unavoidable economic imperative when the wealthy withdraw. Generational wealth, a disease worse than Covid-19, will be cured democratically. The material to mend the tear may be given or taken, but it will be had.

 

 

 

This exhibition manifests a metaphor; we are bound together. Our infrastructure, economy, and environment are one. Together, we form one fabric that fashions an extensive and entangled pattern, but your daily decisions determine the design. You may manipulate and fray the fabric for myopic momentary gain, but perverting the pattern undermines the beauty and balance of the system that supports you. This is an emphatic invitation to improve and restore the society you have bulwarked, stratified, and ossified. Refuse or reinvest; the decision is yours. But ask yourself, on the whole, in aggregate, who are you: selfish scrooge, or benevolent benefactor? Come to the show, contemplate the work, and tell me. I’ll be here.

Damon Crain

 

 

Handmade Industrials Collective Design fair 2018

Exhibiting Work By

Alex Zablocki, USA
Andreea Avram Rusu, USA
Avital Avital, Israel
Carole Milne, USA
Cathryn Shilling, UK
Jen Duffin, Canada
Jian Yoo, South Korea
Judy McKenzie, UK
Jonatan Nilsson, Sweden
Lisa Belsky, USA
Markus Emilsson, Sweden
Nadia-Anne Ricketts, UK
Peeta Tinay, USA
Steven Haulenbeek, USA
Trey Jones, USA
Wiktoria Szawiel, Portugal