The exhibition and event leverage frameworks of experience and related notions, alongside new texts by Chris Fite-Wassilak and Michael Ned Holte, an interview between artist Kristin Posehn and curator Aurora Tang. In concert with this impressive amalgamation, is the full documentation of the process and associated research. Designed by Salome Schmuki and published by New Laconic, Inverted Dome was handmade and assembled by the artist in her studio in a limited-edition.
- Where and when did you make this work?
The sculpture for Inverted Dome was fabricated in my studio in LA from late 2021 through early 2022. It was cut with a CNC router from big sheets of acrylic mirror, and installed at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture. The form of the piece is an interpretation that’s based, to scale, on the structure of US Capitol Dome.
I first thought of making a work with the Capitol Dome in 2009, in the aftermath of the Great Financial Crisis. Though I typically don’t do an idea when it first appears – a good measure of an idea is whether it can persist. So it was in the works well before 2020, but as with just about everything then, schedules moved around. Time ripens and refines.
- Can you describe what is going on in the work?
The Mackey Garage Top Gallery at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture has this special feature — one entire wall of the gallery is made from sliding doors, and opens up completely to the outside. Inverted Dome hung from the ceiling in the otherwise empty gallery, and with the doors open, it reflected back both visitors, the gallery, itself, and the play of light and environment in the LA sky.
- What inspired you to make it?
The Capitol Dome has fascinated me – its image is everywhere. You’ll see it used as a backdrop or key image on news broadcasts or articles put out by just about every media organization, every day, across all channels, but it’s also so common that you may never consciously notice it, like some secret hidden in plain sight. It’s as if this architecture has come to represent an abstraction of power that’s more mediated with each passing day.
While it’s only becoming more clear that we’re watching the slow motion failure of institutions in real time, I also believe that the seeds of new forms are here to be built with. Art can be this testing ground for new mutations of consciousness. I wanted to somehow reimagine the classical structure of the dome as an open, transparent, reflective experience.
- How did you and exhibition curator Aurora Tang meet?
Aurora and I first worked together on an exhibition of materials about Reclamation that went on view at the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Wendover, NV. In addition to her work as an independent curator, she’s also Program Manager at the CLUI, which is how we first met. I’m so grateful for her key role in bringing Inverted Dome to life, it was an amazing experience to work together on it.
- Has working with any particular medium changed your craft / directionality of your work at large?
I like to make works where an idea, material, and tool come together to solve an engineering challenge. For this piece, I had the overall idea and different options in mind for how it could be made, but it finally came together when I found a new tool, a hand-held CNC. That’s an augmented reality tool, meaning it sort of blends computer and human input to make the cut. So it’s possible to cut a very precise vector file – fresh from your computer – in a remarkably flexible way.
My larger works have probed the edges of what it’s possible to do with a readily available technology, whether large format printers, a 35mm camera sensor, a vinyl cutter, or this CNC. I’ve been interested in the readily available aspect because it’s all too easy for a technology to overshadow the artwork itself – the tech is there to get to work and make something possible, not just be a novel trick. An idea sometimes percolates for quite a while until the right technology appears. This decade is exciting, so many 3D tools are available to us now, and they’re far more robust, stable, and affordable than ever before.
- How is this exhibition part of the evolution of your work?
This show is very much a part of the series of larger-scale architectural sculptures that form the body of my work, but it’s also a new step forward. There’s often been a play with environment and light in my past works, this piece pushes that into a more experiential realm. And with each of these architectural sculptures, I’m sort of daring myself to begin with a reference, then advance and develop my own vision further.
- Where might we see Inverted Dome next?
The exhibition had multiple events, many threads of research, and in addition, I also released a series of fully digital works in conjunction with the physical exhibition. As a way to bring these different elements together, I made a limited-edition artist’s book.
The publication for Inverted Dome features texts by art critics Michael Ned Holte and Chris Fite-Wassilak, an interview with myself and Aurora, research, and full color documentation of the works. I love artist’s books, and really believe in them as this dynamic format to give an exhibition life beyond the run of a show, as well as becoming a kind of artwork of their own.
- What’s coming up next for you?
I’m working toward a solo exhibition that will build on ideas that started with this piece – I’m particularly interested in lace, open network patterns, and a play between virtual and physical spaces. And at the same time, I’m developing new fully digital works, as well as new sculpture in my studio. This show opened up a bunch of new threads, and it’s a thrill get into their potential.
Kristin Posehn is an artist based in Los Angeles. She received a Ph.D. in Sculpture from the Winchester School of Art, Winchester, UK, and held a two-year research and production residency at the Van Eyck, Maastricht, NL. She has taught at Oxford University, Woodbury University, Winchester School of Art, and Duke University. Posehn was awarded the Hermine Van Bers Art Prize in 2009, and has received grants and commissions including from the Bonnefanten Museum, Museum De Paviljoens, Brooklyn Historical Society, and Netwerk Center for Contemporary Art. The Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art maintains a collection of materials from Posehn’s architectural installations, and dedicated a solo show to this work in 2017. Recent exhibits include Kristin Posehn: Inverted Dome at MAK Center for Art and Architecture (2020); and Substrata at EPOCH/Los Angeles Museum of Art (2021).
Aurora Tang is a curator and researcher based in Los Angeles. Since 2009 she has been a program manager at the Center for Land Use Interpretation. From 2011–2015 she was managing director of High Desert Test Sites. She is the recipient of an Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Curatorial Research Fellowship. Selected curatorial projects include exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson, Todd Madigan Gallery at CSU Bakersfield, MAK Center for Art & Architecture, City of West Hollywood, Materials & Applications, and the Barrick Museum at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
Read the post on Facteau & Pumhösl at MAK Center for Art & Architecture.