Andrea Rosen Gallery exhibited Cellblock I and Cellblock II, two group exhibitions – both curated by Robert Hobbs, intertwined yet distinctly separate in their intention. The exhibitions were at the Gallery's main space at 525 West 24th Street, as well as inaugurating its new, second location, at 544 West 24th Street. The curatorial selection included Westwood Gallery artist Will Insley
Cellblock II, at the new location (544 West 24th Street), features works by a greater range of artists such as Vito Acconci, Alice Aycock, Marcel Broodthaers, Tom Burr, Jean Genet, Robert Gober, Peter Halley, Nancy Holt, Will Insley, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Robert Motherwell, Bruce Nauman, Beverly Pepper, Ad Reinhardt, Sterling Ruby, Tony Smith, Robert Smithson, Jackie Winsor and Artur Żmijewski. Cellblock II is a dense exhibition combining historical material with an increased number of works and mediums, incorporating wall text, diagrams and video. It offers background information and contextual references that flesh out Hobbs' Cellblock concept without becoming didactic, since its goal is to stimulate viewers to draw their own conclusions. Cellblock II affords Cellblock I the opportunity to be a more visceral experience.
Although still experiential, Cellblock II affords a more cerebral experience.The foundational concept of Cellblock is very purposefully presented as two distinct shows, representing two completely different yet complementary perspectives. The physical separation of Cellblock I and Cellblock II clarifies their different orientations.
While the show brings together work that addresses containment, enclosure, and imprisonment, it also questions the frequently unexamined assumption that modern and contemporary art's content is eminently assessable to viewers either empirically or epistemologically by finding the right key, so that almost by magic an open sesame takes place. Countering this myth of art's ease of access, these shows look at the power of refusal, both formally and in terms of subject matter, when works of art deliberately withhold their contents so that viewers are left with enduring mysteries and disquieting conundrums. A text by Hobbs, describing the deeper intellectual content of Cellblock I and II, is also included for reference.
Text courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery.