Rosy Keyser
My Heads Are My Hands
January 23–February 22, 2014

39 Great Jones Street
New York, NY 10012

Rubber on concrete. Ice on steel. Steel on glass. Rope on wood. When these surfaces meet, friction results – friction, of course, being the force that resists the movement of two surfaces against each other. The force of friction, known as its coefficient, has a value that has no physical dimension. It’s an empirical measurement, determined through experimentation, not by calculations. The coefficient is the representation of a relationship between surfaces. Rosy Keyser’s work is produced as she attempts to change the value of the coefficient by rearranging matter and altering the context of a material’s existence.

Keyser opposes the retrograde force of friction. She manipulates surfaces, removes texture and reconfigures materials’ energies. Forcing, stretching, pushing and pulling. Corrugated steel is flattened to release its crimps; folded and bent into a new shape; drilled with holes, painted with household paint or spray paint. Canvas is cut, punched with holes and stretched, unstretched, bound with rope, painted and re-stretched—conditioned to accept an unconventional configuration. An exercise analogous to that of a contortionist who will commit his body to arduous training in order to execute displays of unusual forms by dramatic flexing and bending—front-bending, back-bending and dislocating their limbs to fit inside a three-foot-by-three-foot box.

Friction is used, embraced and abused. With undertones of process-based art, Keyser uses friction as an instrument to create her materials. She etches into wood and collects what is usually considered waste, the sawdust, to distribute over canvases like paint. The piece of etched wood becomes a printing block, which Keyser inks and uses to imprint other paintings or to make a depression. The etched wood could eventually be attached to a painting or be used again as a device for printing, or both. Pieces of cardboard, rope, aluminum, wire and a mixture of other industrial debris and natural matter are used in the same way—both as medium and as utensil. Even a semi-completed painting becomes a printing device.

This self-reference through imprinting creates an intimate relationship between Keyser’s works. It is a looping and tangled conversation that may go something like this:
I do not experience your experience. But I experience you as experiencing. I experience myself as experienced by you. And I experience you as experiencing yourself as experienced by me. And so on. (R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience, 1967)

In self-replication and repetition, the paintings create shadows of themselves—constant companions. This doubling is also, and more importantly thus, a rearrangement of sequential structure, similar to the techniques of echo, reverb and delay used in Dub, a style of music Keyser frequently cites as an influence. These intentional temporal slippages suggest the impossibility of fixing an object in a single circumstance—which, in turn, suggests that time does not move in a straight line or even a circle, but in a knot, (Kubler, 1962) like the knot of a contortionist’s body or the knot at the end of a rope, threaded through a piece of aluminum and canvas. Keyser’s paintings exist as a collision of materials, their motion ultimately frozen with layers of transparent mediums or household paint.

Rosy Keyser, My Heads Are My Hands will open with a reception for the artist on Thursday January 23, 2014. The exhibition will run through February 22nd.

Rosy Keyser was born 1974 in Baltimore, MD and lives and works in Brooklyn and Medusa, NY. She received her BFA from Cornell University and her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has had four solo presentations at Peter Blum, New York. Her work has been included in the following group shows: Painter Painter at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, curated by Eric Crosby and Bartholomew Ryan (2013); Pink Caviar at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (2012); Immaterial at Ballroom Marfa, TX, curated by Fairfax Dorn (2011); Stubborn Materials at Peter Blum Chelsea, New York, NY (2007). Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Louisiana Museum, Denmark, the Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK, and the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation, Bloomfield Hills, MI.