RLProject / RLWindow
Ryan Lee Gallery, 515 W 26th Street, NY
Stephanie Syjuco
“Ornament + Crime (Redux)”
April 14 – May 14, 2016
Opening: Thursday, April 14, 6-8PM

RYAN LEE is pleased to announce Stephanie Syjuco: Ornament + Crime (Redux), featuring a video from the artist’s “Dazzle Camouflage” series in RLWindow and an accompanying sculptural object in RLProject. This project positions the WWI military tactic of wrapping battleships in a graphic black-and-white pattern in a contemporary framework to consider globalization, migration, historical trauma and colonialism. On view in RLWindow is a 22-minute HD video from 2013, which takes as its starting point architect Le Corbusier’s 1931 iconic building, Villa Savoye, located outside of Paris. Borrowing the digital model from SketchUp’s open-source network, Syjuco creates a haunting, animated walk-through of the Modernist structure overtaken with disruptive black-and-white graphics of folk patterns culled from France’s prior colonial era: Moroccan, Algerian and Vietnamese textiles.

As a historical mash-up of publicly sourced files, this new version of Villa Savoye attempts to transcribe the colonial and cultural history of a Western icon back upon itself as if it were a body to be read and re-read. By infecting the visual cues of its colonies onto itself, a closer view of the society that birthed the building can be made. Displayed along with the animation inside the gallery is a small-scale architectural model, commissioned by Syjuco and built by a professional model maker. Using as reference only the digital, downloaded 3D-file of Villa Savoye, this new, analog model incorporates the mistakes made by its digital designer, becoming an interpretation of an interpretation. The result is a meditative, visual reckoning of sorts: a structure whose clean lines are obscured and rendered blurry by its messier, historical reality.

The title of the project is borrowed from Adolf Loos’ famous 1908 text of the same name. Attempting to describe a hierarchy of visual culture, Loos equates patterning and ornament with the low-brow, the “ethnic,” and the “degenerate,” while the evolution towards Modernist ideals of minimalist design equates rationality, order, and sophistication.

Stephanie Syjuco (b. 1974, Manila, Philippines) has been interested in the visual displays of power and dispersed, collective activities of resistance throughout her conceptual practice. She received her MFA from Stanford University in 2005 and her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1995. Her work has been included in recent biennials and museum exhibitions, including the 2015 Asian Art Biennial, Taiwan; 12th Havana Biennale; 2014 Bucharest Biennial; La Triennale di Milano; ADN Platform, Barcelona; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum, Paderborn, DE; MoMA PS1, New York; Noguchi Museum, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Verein fur Kunst and Kultur, Berlin; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, among others