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Jesse Krimes

Strange Roots

Malin Gallery - Aspen

March 1 – 28, 2022

Jesse Krimes Of Beauty and Decay; or, not (red), 2018

Jesse Krimes
Of Beauty and Decay; or, not (red), 2018

Glass, steel, tree root, artificial plant, transparency film, digital print, acrylic
13 x 13 x 73 in.

Jesse Krimes Paradisus infernus III, 2018

Jesse Krimes
Paradisus infernus III, 2018

Root, artificial plants, transparency film, digital print
76 x 54 x 67 in.

Jesse Krimes Of Beauty and Decay; or, not (gray), 2018

Jesse Krimes
Of Beauty and Decay; or, not (gray), 2018

glass, steel, tree root, artificial plant, transparency film, digital print, acrylic
12 x 10 x 80 in.

 

Jesse Krimes Of Beauty and Decay; or, not (gray) [detail], 2018

Jesse Krimes
Of Beauty and Decay; or, not (gray) [detail]
, 2018
Glass, steel, tree root, artificial plant, transparency film, digital print, acrylic

Jesse Krimes Paradisus infernus V, 2018

Jesse Krimes
Paradisus infernus V, 2018

Root, artificial plants, transparency film, digital print
75 x 37 x 50 in.

Jesse Krimes Paradisus infernus XII [detail], 2018

Jesse Krimes
Paradisus infernus XII [detail]
, 2018
Root, artificial plants, transparency film, digital print
102 x 63 x 60 in.

Jesse Krimes Paradisus infernus IV, 2018

Jesse Krimes
Paradisus infernus IV, 2018

Root, artificial plants, transparency film, digital print
108 x 26 x 43 in.

 

sculpture

Jesse Krimes
Of Beauty and Decay; or, not (brown I), 2018
Glass, steel, tree root, artificial plant, transparency film, digital print, acrylic
18 x 18 x 56 in.

hanging leaf sculpture

Jesse Krimes
Paradisus infernus II, 2018
Root, artificial plants, transparency film, digital print
102 x 63 x 60 in.

Jesse Krimes Of Beauty and Decay; or, not (yellow), 2018

Jesse Krimes
Of Beauty and Decay; or, not (yellow), 2018

glass, steel, tree root, artificial plant, transparency film, digital print, acrylic
36 x 21 x 60 in.

Jesse Krimes Of Beauty and Decay; or, not (purple), 2018

Jesse Krimes
Of Beauty and Decay; or, not (purple), 2018

Glass, steel, tree root, artificial plant, transparency film, digital print, acrylic paint
30 x 18 x 81 in.

Jesse Krimes Of Beauty and Decay; or, not (green), 2018

Jesse Krimes
Of Beauty and Decay; or, not (green), 2018

glass, steel, tree root, artificial plant, transparency film, digital print, acrylic
56 x 39 x 63 in.

Jesse Krimes Of Beauty and Decay; or, not (white), 2018

Jesse Krimes
Of Beauty and Decay; or, not (white), 2018

glass, steel, tree root, artificial plant, transparency film, digital print, acrylic
17 x 24 x 81 in.

Press Release

Malin Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of sculptural work by Philadelphia-based artist Jesse Krimes: Strange Roots. Encompassing free-standing sculptures, mobiles and installations, Strange Roots is the artist’s fifth show with the gallery. The artworks in Strange Roots embody a curious hybridity of both materials and processes, incorporating digitally-printed plastic substrates, botanicals and other natural materials and handblown glass.

Krimes began the investigations that would ultimately result in the artworks in Strange Roots with extensive research into digital image search algorithms - employing Google image search queries to examine how an array of socio-political, historical and culture themes were reflected back visually to the user through the prism of the digital ecosystem. For example, he would probe how internet search tools would register imagery associated with a term such as “decay.” He then traced how specific themes, embodied as a series of digital images, would evolve as he continued to pursue them along a path dictated by the relational infrastructure of the internet. Employing a sort of digital archaeology as his methodology, Krimes conducted broad experimentation with how his inquiries into complex or fraught subjects would be registered as a seemingly endless, iterative stream of algorithm-mediated imagery. The objective guiding this process was Krimes’ interest in discerning correlations between the organization and dissemination of visual content on the internet and societal values, perceptions and norms. Krimes characterizes the process as “a means to excavate the underlying structures of our digital landscape and its function as a space that reconditions our perceptions of reality.”

Conceptually, Krimes came to consider the bodies of visual information he uncovered as products of vast digital algorithmic networks all “feeding into a Leviathan,” which he defines as “the body politic as reflected through clicks, search results and social values.” In attempting to map the contours of this “Leviathan,” Krimes became acutely interested in not only the prototypical imagery that tended to recur but also its inverse — imagery that was expected but failed to appear. Probing for fault lines, he would utilize compounded search topics, such as appending the adjectives “moral” or “societal” to his searches for images related to “decay” and “America. Increasingly, Krimes’ overall perception was of a composite visual representation of society refracted through a digital prism that was grossly distorted in its Bowdlerization — an infinitely-elaborated depiction of America wherein references to war, slavery, subjugation, lynchings, oppression and atrocities are recessed from view. The original sins of our society, its “rot at the root,” are thereby expunged.

Fundamental to this distortion is a near-literal process of digital white-washing, wherein seemingly all searches related to beauty appeared to be depicted through a filter of whiteness.” Even when Krimes alter his search outcomes using “brown” or “black,” all queries associated with beauty seemed thwarted by an inexorable pull back towards consumerist-oriented depictions of white femininity.

Over time, Krimes’ search-image experimentation coalesced around two polar themes: “beauty” and “decay.” After compiling records of his inquiries as groupings of digital images, Krimes rendered the images on large-scale sheets of transparent plastic, which he would cut into fragments, bend and shape by melting with a torch, paint by hand and fuse or stitch together into three-dimensional forms. While serially-producing these objects, he gravitated towards miniaturization and increasingly came to conceive of these objects, which had originated in the parallel sphere of digital space, as “fruits” of either “beauty” or “decay.” As a means of reintegrating these objects into an analog environment, Krimes fused his digitally-produced “fruits” with natural elements, including large root systems collected from the predominantly rural area of Pennsylvania where he grew up, and found industrial objects. Many of the works also feature glass elements produced using traditional hand-blowing techniques. 

The natural elements in the sculptures are fused to the non-organic components with transitional features fashioned primarily from plastic. The resulting works, which Krimes characterizes as “sutured plants,” establish a simultaneity of dichotomies: natural vs. synthetic; beauty vs. dissolution; and mobility vs. stability. The sculptures function as self-contained systems within which beauty and decay exist as “chimerical manifestations” of each other. The intertwining of such disparate elements is a formal gesture intended to force an intimate confrontation between such apparent dichotomies so as to “challenge reductive understandings of complex systems.”

The works in Strange Roots represent continuing investigations into Krimes’ abiding interests as an artist, including how contemporary media representations influence our perceptions of individual and collective identities and the ways in which such perceptions shape or reinforce mechanisms of power and control within society and nominal conceptions of freedom and justice - processes that he broadly categorizes as “societal scaffolding.” For Krimes, such concerns are simultaneously broadly philosophical and intensely personal, with their origins reaching back to the six years he spent incarcerated. During his time in prison, a significant period of which was spent in solitary confinement, Krimes used his artwork as a means of scrutinizing the intersections between individual and collective identities, the impact of mass media on socio-cultural perceptions and the coercive power of the state. In Strange Roots, he centers these concerns largely on “the invisible cloud of the internet,” which he considers to be a space “where traces of social protocols, interactions and ghosts are captured, archived and processed through the lens of cultural value.” Noting the fact that the the term “Leviathan literally means "to twine; to join” or (with an adjectival suffix ן-) "wreathed, twisted in folds, Krimes re-envisions the Hobbesian force majeure with digital media increasingly assuming the role of “central nervous system” within a “monstrous body politic.”

 

Jesse Krimes portrait
Jesse Krimes
Art in America
Art in America
Spread the Wealth
ARTnews
ARTnews
Review: 'Krimes' Spotlights Artist Jesse Krimes' Struggle to Overcome Years in Prison Showcase in New Documentary by Alex Greenberger
The Art Newspaper
The Art Newspaper
The Top Four Art Documentaries at DOC NYC by by David D'Arcy
Hyperallergic
Hyperallergic
Jordan Casteel, Nicole Fleetwood and Daniel Lind-Ramos Named MacArthur "Genius" Fellows by Hakim Bishara
Aspen Daily News
Aspen Daily News
Pennsylvania Artist Invites Aspen Audiences to See the Incarcerated as More Than Their Crimes by Jacqueline Reynolds
ARTFORUM
ARTFORUM
Guggenheim Foundation Names 2021 Fellows
ARTnews
ARTnews
Guggenheim Fellowships Awarded by Alex Greenberger
The Brooklyn Rail
The Brooklyn Rail
Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration by Darla Migan
The Marshall Project
The Marshall Project
Spotlighting the Ingenuity of Artists Behind Bars
FRIEZE
FRIEZE
What an Abolitionist Exhibition Looks Like in a Carceral World by Catherine Damman
The Atlantic Monthly
The Atlantic Monthly
The Breathtaking Ingenuity of Incarcerated Artists by Leslie Jamison
Jesse Krimes quilt
Hyperallergic
In Large-Scale Quilts, Jesse Krimes Memorializes Those Subsumed by Incarceration by Billy Anaia
Jesse Krimes soap work
The Wall Street Journal
Art Review - Prison, Paper and Puns by Peter Plagens
Jesse Krimes soap work
The New Yorker
Jesse Krimes
Jesse Krimes portrait
The Wall Street Journal
An Artist"s Secret Life Behind Bars by Ellen Gamerman
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