Mark Price – Hyper 20XX


Mark Price and his Zine-of-the-Month publishing empire have been on the Printeresting radar for some time. With his latest body of work on display in the solo exhibition Hyper 20xx at Kesting/Ray, he has achieved something delightfully new. If you missed the show, perhaps this post will provide some measure of accommodation.


The art works in the exhibition are collages constructed out of screen-prints produced seemingly only to be cut up. I visited Price’s studio just prior to installing the exhibition and the detritus of his process left it looking like a confetti bomb had gone off (see images of that visit at the end of this post).


The show was organized into three areas of investigation. To the right when you walk in is a body of work defined by its use of color and text.


The second area is a body of black & white/monochromatic works employing a range of drawing & painting systems.


And finally there is a collection of more experimental outliers, including a pair of panorama text/color works (like the one above).

Follow the jump for many more words and pictures.

Collage is often defined (at least in western art) by the work produced in early Modernist Europe by artists like Hannah Höch and Kurt Schwitters. In this context collage can be thought of as noteworthy for the way its process incorporates bits and pieces of found material (often printed) derived from disparate sources, which when pasted together create some form of  parataxis – a moment when the viewer considers the relationship between the disparate components in a new way. I make this point only to draw your attention to the fact that Price is engaged in a very different collage modality. While he seems to be building his images from a range of appropriated and autographic sources, all of this information has been translated by him through the process of screen-printing, rendering them in the consistent haptic signature of that media, and thereby making all of the source material have an consistent internal logic.


The decision to utilize screen-printing to produce this unifying field alters the way we experience the paratactical relationship to his collage materials. This puts his work more in conversation with Max Ernst’s Une Semaine de Bonté. The seminal collage/artist’s book/graphic novel was created in collaboration with the poet Paul Eluard begun in 1922 and first published in its entirety in 1934. In the work, the imagery appears to be produced exclusively with printed illustrations and engravings from the Victorian era. The effect is quite accurately described as surreal. It’s disorienting, in large part because of our cultural expectations about authority inherent in printed matter. Price’s work strikes me as more closely in conversation with Ernst than anything I’ve seen in recent memory, but rather than aping Ernst’s visual style, he’s modeling the process to represent this particularly vivid and dislocating moment in time.


In the catalog accompanying the exhibition, Maxwell Neely-Cohen offers this further insight:

Price’s visual world consists of both appropriated scenes and personal machinations of pure imagination. In it are fragments of collected, distorted, and replicated artifacts—an arrangement of shadows in a parking garage, the sinister implications of a computer error message, and the menacing pattern of caution paint at a Hong Kong toll plaza…The result of this combination is a hypnotic tour of where our psychological and information architecture collide. Hyper 20XX is an invitation to traverse through territories of accelerating obsolescence, cities and lands both known and unknown— to stare at screaming neon placards of our collective fears and then to gaze into depicted voids that somehow resonate with boundless energy—and remain unscathed.


The work is both formally alluring and compositionally frenetic. The perfectly printed and re-assembled gradients, and crystalline facets of color fit together in ways that are quite lovely, but those moments of tranquility underly a superstructure of chaotic re-combination. The images seems to be in motion, or more specifically my eyes go into motion, racing around the picture. At a phenomenological level it’s possible you may never experience one of these images in the same way twice. It reminds me of the experience of perceiving the view out of a train window as it speeds through a city at night; moments and glimpses are mashed-up into a kind of unknowable reality.


The text to me reads as a kind of  conceptual waypoint that formally functions as an axis on which your perception pivots. We necessarily read text in different ways than imagery, and I read the text formally as a visual entry point, but soon that sense of clarity goes out of focus as Price works his doppler effect on various textual fragments (as seen below).




I really enjoy the way much of the work leaves the rectangle behind, favoring trapezoids and strange rhomboid shapes. The minute he places one of these on the wall, one’s preconception about the conventions of the picture plane are called into question. The work seems to vibrate between two forms of understanding, as it reads as both object and image. For some reason, while aesthetically very different, this work calls to mind the shaped and textual paintings of the talented Wendy White in the way the audience is pulled into various states of consciousness in a single viewing.





The monochromatic work tends to include a great deal more painted/drawn marks. Next to the frenzy of the works in color, these seem almost minimal, or to be a vibration at a lower frequency, like a car with the bass cranked driving in endless loops around a neighborhood, as heard through an open window in concert with an atonal box fan in the middle of a hot summer night. ..but maybe I’m projecting.









This piece (detail below) is unique in the body of work; its surface color and imagery has a very subdued tonality, while there is a very clear textual message built in careful layers of paper. It brings to mind a host of connections, like the work of Mark Bradford, Ed Ruscha, or Bruce Nauman .



These works showcase Price’s textual doppler effect.


Some close-up views of these elongated text pieces that remind me of Tom Friedman’s tessellated currency, Untitled (Dollar Bill).


And the small, charming work below seems to be the only work that is in direct conversation with the kind of traditional collage that I discussed at the start of this post. It many ways it serves as a useful cypher for understanding how the other ones operate.


The following are some studio shots I took during a visit to Price’s studio at Space 1026. In fairness I broke a primary rule of visiting an artist’s studio: I arrived just days before the show opened, so his studio was mostly devoid of work, and primarily full of detritus. But in spite of that, I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

His work space is fairly modest in size.

Evidence of collage work abounded!

Confetti Bomb!

The fabled Zine of the Month Library!


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Categories: Artists, Exhibitions

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