Marc Selwyn Fine Art is pleased to announce Technologies of the Self, a group exhibition featuring works by Tetsumi Kudo, Lucas Samaras, Max Hooper Schneider and Paul Thek, curated by Jay Ezra Nayssan. This exhibition explores how these artists use the concept of the container as a tool for understanding and transforming the self.
The installation includes Kudo’s seminal cage sculptures, works on paper, and string works (the first time such a comprehensive selection has been shown in Los Angeles); Samaras’ iconic boxes, manipulated Polaroids and works on paper; Thek’s reliquaries, newspaper and acrylic on canvas paintings; and new multimedia works by Los Angeles based artist Max Hooper Schneider following his exhibition at the Hammer Museum in 2020.
Technologies of the Self
by Jay Ezra Nayssan
In 1982, Michel Foucault defined technologies of the self as techniques “which permit individuals to effect by their own means a certain number of operations on their own bodies and souls so as to transform themselves.”
Ever since we have been able to tell a story, we have occupied ourselves with the one that lies at the center of the human condition: our quest to overcome our limitations in order to reunite the mortal with the divine. These limitations, however, are precisely what give form and shape to our physical existence on Earth. Our bodies, our homes, our belief systems—are all containers. Confronting this fundamental paradox of containment-transformation has been central to our own narrative for millennia. Each of the artists in “Technologies of the Self”—Max Hooper Schneider, Tetsumi Kudo, Lucas Samaras, and Paul Thek—has been principally occupied with the idea of containment, often placing the self, or symbols of the self, within a container: a vitrine, a cage, a box, or a reliquary. Effectively creating a portrait of the self, the container serves for these artists as a technology for gathering, sorting, managing, and processing information on the self. Their containers inevitably become vessels for, if not representations of, transformation.
This exhibition considers transformation as the struggle toward Self-realization, or the reconciliation of the individual consciousness with universal consciousness. What all four artists have in common, in addition to their aesthetic preoccupation with the container, is a fascination with the space between self and Self-realization. The container becomes a technology for imagining (and sometimes coming close to) Self-realization.
We find the artists constantly journeying between two contrary states in their work—form and formlessness; limitation and expansion; opposition and reconciliation. As we begin to contemplate these containers for their multiple and simultaneous (even contradictory) expressions, we are confronted with the duality of containment-transformation: Do the walls of the container exist solely to be brought down?
These artists are bound by their ability to refract their own journey toward Self-realization into our own. They objectify the self through their highly personal and visceral, at times incongruent and unreasoning, assortments of objects and symbols in what we have come to understand as their (self-) portraits. In decoding and decrypting these portrait-containers, however, we find ourselves within them. Perhaps this is their purpose. One only needs to consider the permeable and transparent nature of their containers—Hooper Schneider’s vitrines, Kudo’s cages, Samaras’s open-lid boxes, and Thek’s Plexiglass reliquaries are all in fact container-corridors, waiting for us to enter.
A catalog accompanying the exhibition was published by Marc Selwyn Fine Art and Jay Ezra Nayssan and designed by Benjamin Schwartz, featuring essays by Johannes Hoerning, researcher for the Marcel Duchamp Collection and Archive of Hong Kong’s M+ Museum and PhD candidate at Cambridge University, and over 100 pages of images and texts by Max Hooper Schneider, Tetsumi Kudo, Lucas Samaras, and Paul Thek.
Jay Ezra Nayssan is a curator and founder of Del Vaz Projects, an exhibition platform based in Los Angeles. He has curated exhibitions of work by Misha Kahn, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Jessi Reaves, as well as a number of group exhibitions.
Tetsumi Kudo: Portrait of the Artist.., Meditation Between Memory and Future, Valsez avec le trou noir!, courtesy Hiroko Kudo, the Estate of Tetsumi Kudo and Hauser & Wirth © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Fossil in Hiroshima (all), To Kill Is to Let Live (A), courtesy Hiroko Kudo, the Estate of Tetsumi Kudo and Andrea Rosen Gallery © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Max Hooper Schneider: © 2021 Max Hooper Schneider. Lucas Samaras: ©2021 Lucas Samaras. Paul Thek: © 2021 The Estate of Paul Thek.