Max Hooper Schneider "Lab Matters 2: 2012-2013"
Gallery 169 is pleased to present Lab Matters 2: 2012-2013, recent works from the studio/laboratory of Max Hooper Schneider. The survey marks the Los Angeles debut of Hooper Schneider's life-sized glowing Beluga whale skeleton cast from photoluminescent epoxy resin and brings together drawing, aquaria, tapestry, collage, and photography. While the assembled works are diverse they share a general thematics that foregrounds the agency of matter and problematizes the border between art and science, natural and artifactual. The result is a re-staging of the gallery space as a living system wherein works, visitors, specimens and so forth interact in a performance of mutually modificatory molecular movement and taxonomic confusion.
Max Hooper Schneider (born Santa Monica, 1982) is an artist holding a master's degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Design and additional degrees in urban design and biology. Hooper Schneider's work is supported conceptually by Spinozan materialist principles regarding the agency of all matter (organic and inorganic, living and dead, human and nonhuman) and the displacement of humans from their traditional position of centrality and superiority as knowers and actors in the world.
These principles are performed in the produced works in diverse ways, including, for example, a 1:1 replica of a Beluga whale skeleton, expanded and suspended on chains and motors and comprised of glowing pigments that are in a constant state of molecular vibration; the rigging and staging of open systems and environments that confuse who/what is acting and being acted upon (e.g., a phosphorescent mountain along a nomadic walkabout in the Gobi Desert or aquaria repurposed as a mini-galleries for their nonhuman occupants); the use of animals, minerals, and synthetic materials for blurring taxonomies and exploring surrealist humor (e.g., a surfboard as rare earth-based specimen or an invertebrate reef constructed of a yellow-chromed Buddha's fist lemon); the deployment of chromatic density and pattern for the purpose of calling into question what, categorically, something is (e.g., tapestry as drawing, drawing as a weave, collage as landscape, a landscape photograph as collage), and so forth.
What is most important to Hooper Schneider is for the viewer of any given work to ask, 'What is it I am looking at and what is looking at me,' thus abdicating prescriptive modes of experiencing 'art' which position the human as active and the art work as passive.
Since opening his studio Hooper Schneider has exhibited widely in a variety of venues. He continues to work across all sites and scales and through public and private commission. The heterogeneity of the work has opened up collaborations with visual artists, architects, musicians, and designers. His recent show in Milan was reviewed in the November 2013 issue of Artforum and he has published with Routledge and Princeton University Press. In August he will return to Mongolia as an invited guest to participate a second time in the Mongolia Land Art Biennial. Max currently lives and works in Los Angeles, New York, and Mexico City.
Max, a fourth generation Angelino, proceeds with his work in the Santa Monica Canyon with a quotation by Teodor Adorno: "The splinter in your eye is the best magnifying glass." The aphorism is taken from Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life written by Adorno between 1941 and 1947 while he was living near the Canyon in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of German exiles that Thomas Mann referred to as "German California."