Joshua Pieper’s drawings, sculpture, and video have cropped up in a number of Bay Area shows, including one that I co-curated at Mission 17. He has established a quirky artistic personality inclined to deadpan wit. When the experimental Oakland gallery Blankspace gave him the run of the place last July, I showed up early for the opening. The show threw me for a loop. The main space was crowded with industrious disarray, mimicking what you might see in a closed gallery during an installation period. Tools and equipment were everywhere. The only conventional art was a few photographs on the wall. But they were photos of the sorts of things that filled the gallery.
It is as if Pieper had looked at Louise Lawler’s photos—which document artworks in storage, in transit, in the process of installation or de-installation—and decided he could go further. The results were compelling in a number of ways. Ideas about public and private, about the inelegant backstages of a world that craves slick presentations, came to the fore. The displayed paraphernalia invited you to view it as sculpture, and deny it. The placement of the objects, accomplished with intent but without an over-mindful design, provided a bit of Zen intrigue. And of course there was the exhilaration of the sheer impudence.
Photos (above and below) provide some views of the exhibit.