September 5, 2018

Jason Dodge with Ishion Hutchinson
The Broad Church of Night

Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society

Photo: Robert Chase Heishman.

Jason Dodge is an American in Berlin—and a sculptor among poets. For over twenty years, he has been making work—assemblage, installation, objects, things, often only minimally altered—drawing on the minimalist tradition in art that simmers and smolders with the emotional charge of everyday life, inner experience and memory. A master of formal restraint, he makes sculptures—often incongruous juxtapositions of hard and soft, hidden and seen, living and dead—that brim with biography, alternately resembling literary vignettes, portraits, impressions or anecdotes. His parallel life as a publisher of contemporary American poetry may lead us to look at his environments as approximations of words strewn across a blank page in the economic manner of, say, a William Carlos Williams poem. Indeed, Williams’s motto “No ideas but in things” nicely sums up some of Dodge’s guiding principles in bringing sculpture to life.

A recent turn has seen Dodge move away (some) from the stark, ascetic language-of-less towards the promiscuous scatter aesthetic reminiscent of more adventurous times in the development of contemporary sculpture, and making defiantly literal and liberal use of the flotsam and jetsam of daily life, of what is so poetically called “refuse.” His landscapes are open to a host of interpretations, from the ecological and socio-political to the deeply personal. On a formal level, they reveal a newly confident painterly sensibility at work, and a heartening embrace, perhaps, of easily maligned notions of beauty.

Dodge abandoned the practice of titling discrete artworks many years ago. He “makes” exhibitions rather than “works”; the naming is often left to poets. The title of this exhibition was suggested to him by the poet Ishion Hutchinson, who has composed a poem for the exhibition’s ceremonial dismantling in late November. After this event, the gallery will be left empty, save for a recording of the poem’s reading by Hutchinson. On the occasion of this experiment in disapparition, a publication will be presented titled The Broad Church of Night—a fitting tribute to a space that was once home to the Meadville Lombard Theological school.

Jason Dodge was born in Newtown, PA, in 1969. A graduate of the Yale University School of Art, he has been living and working in Berlin since the early 2000s. Recent solo exhibitions include: Casey Kaplan (New York, 2018); Galleria Franco Noero (Turin, 2018); Schinkel Pavilion (with Paul Thek, Berlin, 2017); Institut d’art contemporain Villeurbanne (2016); Mercer Union (with CA Conrad, Toronto, 2016); Henry Art Gallery (Seattle, 2013); and Lentos Kunstmuseum (Linz, 2013). His work has been included in group shows at the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, 2018); MIT List Visual Arts Center (Cambridge, MA, 2017); Kunsthalle Wien (Vienna, 2017); The Israel Museum (Jerusalem, 2017); the 9th Liverpool Biennial (2015); the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2012, 2015); the 12th Lyon Biennial and 55th Venice Biennale (both 2013); and the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, 2009).

Since 2012, Dodge has been running Fivehundred Places, a publishing platform for contemporary Anglophone poetry. Among the poets published by Fivehundred Places are Julian Talamontez Brolaski, CAConrad, Matthew Dickman, Roger Reeves, Ilya Kaminsky, Donika Kelly, Dorothea Lasky, Eileen Myles, and Ishion Hutchinson.

Ishion Hutchinson was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica, in 1983. He studied at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, New York University and the University of Utah, where he received his PhD. His first collection of poems, Far District, won the 2011 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, while his 2016 collection, House of Lords and Commons, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. In a recent New Yorker profile, fellow poet Dan Chiasson called this latter volume “a study of place and memory rendered in what used to be called 'the grand style': the timeless, high-literary idiom that nearly anyone who has ever learned the language would identify as 'poetry,' based on its sound alone, and that nonplussed readers of contemporary poetry sometimes say they miss.” Hutchinson currently lives in Ithaca, NY, where he teaches in the graduate writing program at Cornell University.

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