u
Artist: Alix Ferrand, Anna-Lisa Högler, Benjamin Reiss, Brittany Shepherd, Hanna Hur and Michael Kennedy Costa, Kim Farkas, Benjamin Reiss, Lila de Magalhaes and Harley Hollenstein, Naoki Sutter-Shudo
Organized by: Ana Iwataki and Marion Vasseur Raluy
Venue: Utopian Visions Art Fair, Portland
Date: September 14 - 16, 2018

One morning in Los Angeles, I had to go to Sean MacAlister’s house quite early. We had only known each other for about a week. Ana and I were organizing an exhibition at his exhibition space 67 Steps. I was staying at Lila’s house; she was in Switzerland with Harley. That morning, I didn’t have time to eat breakfast, I arrived starving to Sean’s house. He made me two pieces of toast with peanut butter and jam, and gave me some coffee. I had never eaten peanut butter. It’s cultural. In France, it’s difficult to find and I found it kind of gross. The idea of putting peanuts on bread seemed absurd to me, like putting butter on bread with cheese might have seemed absurd to Sean. But at the end of this breakfast, I felt very well.

I knew my mind had just constructed a strong memory, which in the same way as the Liège waffles made by my grandmother from the North of France, would enter into the pantheon of memories burned into my brain. In itself, the toast didn’t produce anything, it was simply the entry way towards a whole host of other memories. It reminded me of my presence in Los Angeles, and particularly in Sean’s house, which by virtue of his hospitality, generosity, and kindness seemed like a second home. I also knew that in a few minutes Ana would be there and that increased my sense of satisfaction. In this mental space, when looking back at it today, there is as much the presence of Sean, the taste of peanut butter, Luca’s artworks, as the expectation of seeing Ana. A photographer was coming to capture images of an exhibition that would forever be part of our shared history. These images would enter into our imaginary and in a certain way, always belong to us. They would add themselves to the flood of images that we have produced, along with the artists, in showing and working with them during different exhibitions.

Before writing this text in my room in Paris, where I hear children in the courtyard, alternating between cries and laughter, and I can feel the crisp early September air coming from the Canal St Martin, I made myself toast with peanut butter. I didn’t immediately realize what I had just unconsciously done: I created the conditions for writing. For in eating, I saw images in my memory, those which take place in Los Angeles. It seems to me that in each exhibition made with Ana, we’ve produced an incalculable number of memories through the artwork exhibited. As if each work entered into us, living in us, becoming an unconscious part of our imaginary that is nourished by new and rich acquisitions.

u is a letter from the word “current” on the 67 Steps website. The project spaces shown here are collaborations by u and artists who have entered and shaped this shared cosmology. They are new image captures for our unconscious, integral elements of a universe, that will inform future aesthetic experiences.

Marion Vasseur Raluy

I went to 67 Steps before I knew who Sean was, for the inaugural exhibition, a collaboration by Hanna Hur and Michael Kennedy Costa. 67 Steps stuck out of the side of a hill, overlooking a small canyon. You could see the next hill over, some staircases, some houses, some yards. Bamboo surrounded the deck on three sides. The sky changed color quickly; it was February.

I took a photo of a red light illuminating a stalk of bamboo. Other people took photos like it too and they are visible on the 67 Steps website. The red bamboo was always supposed to be an image. Hanna and Michael burn images into the brain, they scratch them into the skin.

Their individual practices seem to share some ancestral ground. Quiet and considered, their gestures are economical without being sparse. The resulting images are at once primal and otherworldly. Hanna’s work is more overtly rooted in the spiritual and the psychic, an ongoing challenge in how to make the invisible, the unspeakable, and the unknowable translate into image. Michael’s are infused with an earthier sensuality—sex, alienation, the uncanny, crossed gazes, unseeing eyes, disgust, confusion. If these images are dreamlike, they are a dream of embodied consciousness gone awry. Of the order of poetry—Michael’s other medium, and sometimes Hanna’s too—they both offer measured evocations of slippery concepts.

These two practices circled each other at 67 Steps; Hanna drawing responses to Michael’s words, Hanna’s strings responding to Michael’s drawings, Michael reading Hanna’s words. Now, they’ve stepped into each other. Is it anecdotal to mention that since the 67 Steps show, they’ve moved in together? I can’t convince myself that it is.

Their project space was made in their home, an activity they would turn to in the evenings. A selection of Michael’s drawings was transferred to transparent paper and then cut for the individual lines. Michael made lines, Hanna made copper circles. This became the basis of the form, with the two artists taking turns placing lines onto the surface of the space until they became spirals. Or rather, until the spiral revealed itself. These lines and spirals and circles became many things. To name them might be to pin it down too firmly, like driving a nail through the foot of a dancer to the floor. There are keys though: A spiral staircase. A grid. A third. The difference between a labyrinth and a maze.

In those evenings, at their home, they stitched their DNA together. Sean was there too.

I didn’t meet Sean until several months after Hanna and Michael’s show. A mutual friend had his birthday in West Hollywood. I posted a geo-loca- lized photo on Instagram and specific kinds of strangers liked it: a fitness coach, an influencer, and an account called objectcatering. I said to our friend, “Look, even some catering company liked this photo”. A few hours later, Sean joined us. He introduced himself saying, “I’m that catering company”.

Object Catering is Sean’s only social media presence. The Instagram bio simply reads: “Nomadic catering project serving unaltered street level objects”. His name appears nowhere.

u is Sean’s newest project. It can only be found on the internet by clicking the letter “u” in the word “Current” on the 67 Steps website, where again his name is nowhere to be found.

Ana Iwataki

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