Crowdsourcing a time machine
October 4, 2014–January 25, 2015
Even in our digital age of constant information, the rhythmic cycle of the daily newspaper is still a central form of organizing the world around us. The paper’s front page records in the present tense what will eventually become history. It orients our attention to pressing actions, be they individual, political, or natural, that over time repeat and rearrange into patterns around common human motivations. Fred Tomaselli‘s The Times traffics in these patterns, reflecting and reinventing them through complexly layered collages superimposed on recent cover stories in The New York Times. The collages surface unseen connections, rearrange realities, and reveal relationships of images and ideas across time and space.
Tomaselli uses images within the familiar grid of the front page as portals, overwriting and manipulating the supposed objective reality of the newspaper with his completely subjective surreality. His interventions play against the detachment of journalistic forms, inserting emotion, fantasy, and absurdity to counterpoint or underscore the original narrative. Tomaselli says these works “freeze time,” trapping inherently ephemeral events and images like flies in amber. But in aggregate this act also reimagines time, linking images and actions of a chosen day to their counterparts in the past and in some projected future.
The Times grew from Tomaselli’s own doodlings of personal commentary while reading, eventually spurring him to marry his “news junkie” habit with his studio practice. The series runs the gamut from hard-edged abstraction to hallucinatory pattern play, and engages in a dialogue with art historical imagery and themes, refracted through present-day news images.
Lead support for this exhibition is provided by the Herbert W. and Susan L. Johe Endowment. Additional generous support is provided by the University of Michigan Department of American Culture, Department of the History of Art, Institute for the Humanities, and Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.
Penny W. Stamps Speaker Series and UMMA Present: Fred Tomaselli ‘Chronicles, Volume One’
Thursday, October 2, 5:10–7pm
Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor
Fred Tomaselli explores reality dislocation and the broken dreams of utopianism in colorful, complex works that utilize painting, photo collage, newsprint and unorthodox materials. His work has most recently been the subject of a solo project at the Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth Texas and was included in the Adelaide International. In 2010, his work was the subject of a 20-year survey that originated at the Aspen Art Museum, which then traveled to the Tang Teaching Museum and ended at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. His work has been shown in museums and galleries around the world including Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Site Santa Fe, The Fruitmarket Gallery, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, The Rose Art Museum, San Francisco Museum of Contemporary Art, The MCA in Sydney, The Mori Art Museum and the Albright Knox Gallery, among others. In 2010, his work was the subject of a 20-year survey that originated at the Aspen Art Museum, which then traveled to the Tang Teaching Museum and ended at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. His work has most recently been the subject of a solo project at the Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth Texas and was included in the Adelaide International and the Smithsonian Museum. The most recent book on his work titled Fred Tomaselli: The Times, was released by Prestel in the Spring of 2014. He lives and works in Brooklyn and is represented by New York’s James Cohan Gallery and London’s White Cube Gallery.