October 2 - November 8, 2020
Cathouse Proper @ 524 Projects
524 Court Street
Curated by David Dixon
Exhibition Press Release:
Justin Sterling’s 'Orange Chapel' celebrates broken windows. A broken window is an act of rebellion, a symbol of neglect, and a representation of a certain human perspective, it conjures associations with anarchy, displacement, and dystopia. Sterling’s work explores, generally, the notion of “the city” through the use of its materials and relations. Here, at Cathouse Proper, Sterling takes advantage of 524 Projects’ soaring space and its wall of six windows by installing, in the bays, his signature, life-stained-glass windows, thereby, filtering the gallery’s natural light and evoking a chapel of “good trouble.” Each installed window is a separate composition that is simultaneously broken and springing new life (or springing new life because it is broken) with a wide range of raw matter and metaphors applied (e.g., like a cracked seed). Some windows have live plants growing, others assemble caulk, tape, paint, expandable foam and various found objects. Orange Chapel brings the turmoils and troubles of the city into the rarified space of art for reflection, meditation and––as the city is also seen through the windows––for refraction.
Assuming the role of “alter” in this 'Orange Chapel' is Sterling’s adjustable ladder sculpture titled, 'Deposition,' which references the long tradition of Christian imagery depicting a seemingly dead Christ being taken down from his crucifix. The ladder, leaning against a high gallery wall, aspires to ascend an attached window with a cross frame that, hung diagonally, takes the form of a lozenge-shaped, West African cosmogram; however, descending the ladder is a bowling ball sphere of orange that acts as a counterweight to the window’s implied upward motion. In the lexicon of the artist, “orange” is the orange of prison jumpsuits and traffic cones, not to mention the pallor of certain would-be tyrants (dictionary: the tyrant was deposed by popular demonstrations) (emphasis by the author).
Completing this set of Sterling’s installed sculptures, which makes of the gallery a chapel, is a fountain, titled 'River,' constructed of found city materials (fire hydrant, old sink, etc.). Positioned near the entrance, 'River' percolates blood-red, rusty, holy water up from below, audibly roiling (like the people themselves) in this now transformed, damp and dim, shadowy, white cube gallery.
Unscheduled, throughout the exhibition, Sterling will perform trumpet solos in 'Orange Chapel' that will be broadcast live on the Cathouse Proper Instagram feed, as well as, recorded for future distribution.
Concurrent with 'Orange Chapel,' Sterling has work in his first museum group exhibition, 'Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration' at MoMA PS1, through April 4, 2021.