Ian Pedigo: Eyes Fixed Upon Pictures

Photographic gels, driftwood, ash, coat racks, animal bones, and swatches of colored fabric are just a few of the actors in Ian Pedigo’s new exhibition of sensitively intuitive sculptures and photographic works Eyes Fixed Upon Pictures. To enter into Pedigo’s visual language is like waking up from a coma inside an archeological dig. Clues are given: a faded skeleton, an isolated tree branch, demarcations of space outlined in colored cords — each pointing toward an eerie synthesis of nature, the built environment, and the distant cosmos.

It is perhaps Pedigo’s attention to the most distant of visual subjects — the stars — which collapses the space so abruptly between his material choices. After all, what sort of physical juxtaposition is impossible if all is made of stardust? Pedigo’s sculptures ask this broad metaphysical question with seemingly casual effort. In a wall piece tracing a partial contour of Sagittarius, the stars that organize the shape of the constellation are denoted by cow bones spiked into the wall and tethered to yellow, pink, and blue shoelaces. More a survey of space than a representation, this piece charts the astrological sign in bones and string, suturing mythology to the development of early tools, animal domestication to pop detritus and cave painting. It’s possible that these objects are telling us how the image of the centaur came to be — a code in three dimensions for what developed in four.

On site at the Abrons, Eyes Fixed Upon Pictures reacts to the physical aspects of the building itself, folding interior and exterior into one with colored transparencies on the large curving face of gallery windows and intersecting geometric volumes of fabric echoing the institutional brick architecture and faux hollow concrete block construction. This kind of permeable layering of structure is evident in Pedigo’s large-scale face mounted prints under Plexiglas. In one the image of a bison skeleton hovers, inverted and transposed over a Roman aqueduct. These two images compete for dominance with a third overlapping scene into which they are spliced: a vintage photo of a sparsely populated city street in Kiev. Finally, the entire print is set into place on a wooden shipping pallet, a generic, weathered icon of international distribution. No less than a proposition for the historic, cultural, and geographic pressures which shape our current deluge of global production, waste, and ecological ruin, Pedigo’s fading bison of progress may prove a roadmap of the world to come.

Ian Pedigo grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, where he was also born. During his formal years he studied visual art/sculpture at the University of Texas at Austin and participated in the Salzburg Summer Academy of Fine Art in Austria working with figures such as Ilya Kabakov and Boris Groys. His work has been exhibited across North America and Europe, including recent solo exhibitions in Gothenburg, Sweden at Valand Academy, in London with Rokeby, in New York with Klaus Von Nichtssagend and in Lethbridge Canada at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. His work has been written about in Artforum, Frieze, Art News, Art Review, The New York Times, Time Out New York, and The New Yorker among other publications. He currently lives and works in Queens, New York.

Additional support for Ian Pedigo: Eyes Fixed Upon Pictures is provided by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.