Sprüth Magers is pleased to announce Kaari Upson’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and her first in Germany. Upson’s practice is rooted in the question of contamination, unearthing the space between the self and the other, the indeterminable zone of “both.” By investigating the domestic environment, Upson presents the wealth of emotional material that a familiar object or space can contain, exude, and expel; we leak all over our things, and they, in turn, leak their thingness back onto us. The intimate and mundane objects of the American household become bodily, uncanny, and multiple.
In the exhibition MMDP Upson again collapses the dichotomy between inside/outside, offering a Barthesian “third term". By dividing the gallery into two twinned octagonal spaces, Upson offers the viewer two split viewing experiences. Upon entering the body is surrounded by a quartet of videos through the space. Each video is different but together they constitute a singular portrait: examining the inner life and outer experience of an unnamed blonde, who wanders the aisles of Costco, a new type of flâneur. Costco is presented as a formal landscape, a pastoral and emotional scene, cluttered with the “bulk” of the American dream. In another video, the same blonde is seen in an idyllic forest, mid-ritual, sloshing around in a river, pulling a tarp over the ghostly floating bodies of other outcasts, setting fire to plastic towers. This setting is like Costco folded inside out, but the same figure moves through it with the same spectral determination. The psychic waste of our character pollutes both environments; neither is free, but both have hope.
The viewer then chooses between two hallways, and enters a second chamber. A sculpture sits in the negative space between the rooms, like a penumbra cast against the wall’s edge. Fossilized Pepsi cans sit in vertical troughs, buried standing up. Upson makes them using an experimental casting process: a Pepsi can is filled with liquid aluminum that melts into the can’s form, merging the stream of metal and the can into one solid object. The colors of the can burn off, but there is a shadow of the label left. They proliferate through the gallery, swarming. They look like the litter that’s left after the world burns down, remnants of a prehistoric future, the debris of a post-capitalist world. In the second chamber, the viewer can wander to the window, and see a twin sculpture, sprouting from the ground outside. The tomb is doubled, as the work descends into the real (or should we say natural?) world that surrounds the interior of the gallery. Upson’s work thumbs a puncture through the ghostly film that separates space: private, public, inner, outer, sacred, and profane.
In an accompanying publication Upson presents a log-book that follows the process and ephemera of the can’s production, layered and juxtaposed with the manuscript of Upson’s mother’s autobiography, which describes her life in East Germany and her journey to the United States.
Kaari Upson (*1972 in San Bernardino) lives and works in Los Angeles. Upcoming exhibitions include the 2017 Whitney Biennial and the New Museum, New York (2017). Her work has recently been shown in Los Angeles - A Fiction, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2016); Adhesive Products, Bergen Kunsthall (2016); The Art of Our Time, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2015); Sleepless: The Bed in History and Contemporary Art, 21er Haus, Vienna (2015); No Man’s Land: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2015) and Test Pattern, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2013);