CONDO hosting Bureau, New York: Wojciech Bąkowski, Erica Baum, Matt Hoyt, Goshka Macuga, Ben Rivers and John Smith

20 January - 24 February 2024

Kate MacGarry is delighted to host Bureau, based in New York, USA. As part of CONDO London 2024, Bureau will present work by three artists alongside three artists represented by Kate MacGarry.


Wojciech Bąkowski works in sculpture, sound, poetry, drawing and animation. Bąkowski will present a suite of drawings using his recent technique of charcoal on sanded cardboard. The imagery in Bąkowski’s somber and haunting drawings translate the mystifying connections between time and memory. A lucid dreamer, Bąkowski relays how urban dwellers map the unconscious mind onto the streets we pace and how memories unfold along curving tram lines. The shape of dreams conform to Bąkowski’s familiar skyline of post-soviet housing estates. The walls and furnishings of a bedroom interchange with enigmatic visions projected on the walls of the mind.


Erica Baum works with printed and written language, mining myriad sources for fragments of found poetry and surprising slices of imagery. Baum will present works from three of her acclaimed photographic series. Her gelatin silver photographs of the Blackboards series capture expanses of empty blackness and lush swathes of dusty white. Chalk lines and phantasmic word fragments remain, partially wiped away in between university classes. The Dog Ear and The Naked Eye works offer unexpected views and poetic juxtapositions found hidden in the pages of books. With their diagonal slices and truncated words, the Dog Ear pieces are not mere chance compositions of bifurcated text: they can - and should - be read. The Naked Eye captures dime-store paperback books, spread open to reveal a rhythm of sliced images, fractured text and abstraction, layered in a cinematic shuffle. 


Matt Hoyt will show a recent selection of small sculptures as well as two of his colourful tempera grid paintings. Hoyt’s handmade objects invite curiosity and feel utterly strange and foreign while also deeply grounded in an expression of slow, geological time. Hoyt conjures subjective and variable associations with his sculptures, morphing resemblances from vast, disparate origins, which always point back to a place of imagination. Hoyt’s paintings are grounded in geometry, colour and pattern, providing a meditative order and vision in contrast to the highly unpredictable space of the sculptures. The hand painted, repeating tessellations offer an entoptic buzzing, opening a kaleidoscopic portal to reverie. 


Goshka Macuga’s practice is based on historical and archival research, which informs her installations, sculptures, tapestries, and collages. Hidden Until Circumstances Are Suitable (Polar Bear and Wolf) (2020) is taken from Macuga’s large scale tapestry The Fable of the Wolf, the Polar Bear, the Reindeer and the Cosmonaut (2018) a complex scene in an ancient Norwegian forest, where a group of people dressed as animals (a wolf, a reindeer and a polar bear) have gathered after participating in a political demonstration. Macuga’s collages refer to British mathematician Ada Lovelace and the history of computer programming which began  in the first half of the nineteenth century. Background and foregrounds are alternated and combined like a textile grid, designed as patterns for dispersing visual information.


Ben Rivers’ films are typically intimate portrayals of solitary beings or isolated communities. His practice as a filmmaker treads a line between documentary and fiction. Rivers uses these themes as a starting point to imagine alternative narratives and existences in marginal worlds. The title of Rivers’ film The House Was Quiet (2020) is taken from poem by Wallace Stevens. Made in an abandoned and derelict school house on a Scottish island, the leftovers, the light and dust, an accidental pinhole camera from a hole in the roof reveals clouds on the wall and a tea tray with a classical painting of a face. The empty house is brought back to quiet life by a reading narrated by Patricia Treib, an American artist represented by Bureau, New York and Kate MacGarry, London.


John Smith was inspired in his formative years by conceptual art and structural film, but also fascinated by the immersive power of narrative and the spoken word. Over the past five decades he has developed an extensive body of work that subverts the perceived boundaries between documentary, fiction, representation and abstraction. Often rooted in everyday life, his meticulously crafted films playfully explore and expose the language of cinema. Smith’s silent, looped work, Fan (1978/2014) is taken from the first part of his 1978-9 16mm film Blue Bathroom, a distillation of ideas concerning the tension between representation and materiality. Fan presents an apparently straightforward image and reveals it to be an artifice, foregrounding the filmmaking process as subject matter. By superimposing and alternating two identical framings of an electric fan filmed by day and by night the film uses their positive/negative aspect to repeatedly construct and break down a representational image.


Artist Biographies