KATE NEWBY: don’t be all scared like before

KATE NEWBY, Don’t be all scared like before
Rope, 2015
38 Ludlow St., New York

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THE ROPE THAT LOST her tension BUT FOUND HER ARTIST

by Rosanna Albertini

38 Ludlow street, New York. I must raise my chin and eyes toward the top of the wire screen to see the rope, and follow the vertical face of the building to the last floor, which is frowning behind the red, incongruous, and irregular line: a red rope, again, from one side to the other of a flat modern face riddled with window holes.

One would think the residents inside would spend their energy glued to the glass, stuck like flies that can’t find their way out. The red rope grabs the side corners of the building tightly. It is there to stay for a while. A perfect parasite and a rebel form in which secret meanings are fastened: that fat bundle around the pole is as unreadable as the Chinese ideograms painted on a nearby banner. (Unreadable if one is not Chinese.) How absurd! But, I need it more than a dictionary. The garbage bags on the sidewalk and the cracks of the wall are easy, life cycle. Not the rope.

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Richard Tuttle* wrote:
IT’S THE COLORS INSIDE THE COLORS THAT ARE TOUCHING, THE MEANINGS INSIDE THE MEANINGS.

(HOW TO HANDLE THE ART WITH GLOVES OFF)

Watch out, even these artist’s thoughts, written in capital fonts, look like the modern building. They wrap my mind like a blanket. Get rid of it. There is a strange gap between me and my mind, still conservative. Kick it out, says my instinct. Out of the window? Yes, stop looking and jump. Kate Newby, where are you? I do know the red rope is your soul.

There are mostly Chinese children in the P.S. 42 Benjamin Altman school, 38 Ludlow Street. They like the red, it’s good luck color. They love the rope without knowing why, lucky them. They are confused. “What’s your job?” they ask the artist. And Kate tells them she moves from one country to another making forms and colors she can leave on the ground, or on the top of a building, so they become moments of other people’s lives, as footprints after footprints many other humans also leave their traces on the ground.

I’m flying out of the window. The red rope sounds like a musical instrument changing form at each loop, bending, stretching out. The artist is the player. The red of the bricks sends iron vibes toward the rope, one more voice in the visual music of city. And Rembrandt says hello through Benjamin Altman’s spirit who collected his portraits, so densely red. Meanings? Maybe. Or the simple evidence that art brings into the air: the evidence that children can only see as a mystery with no answer: what’s life? Not only children, for that matter. But they are inside the school, to be trained for life.

Looking at the red rope, they gasp. It’s impressive to look at something that unfolds, without words, the whole messy but strong and obstinate line between birth and the last breath. Perhaps the only case in which beginning and ending make sense. My legs disappear, wings grow from my shoulder blades, I am an owl searching for a palm tree to spend the night.  

Meanwhile teacher and kids paint red lines inside the school, at the angle where the wall meets the floor. Magically, a small palm tree starts growing from one of the new red lines.

IMPERFECTIONS BECOME VIRTUES

IN THAT RARE MOMENT WHEN SOMETHING REPRESENTS NOTHING, BECOMING ITSELF**

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  •  ***Richard Tuttle, In Parts, 1998-2001, catalogue of the exhibition at Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsiylvania, Philadelphia, Dec.2001 – Feb. 2002.

KATE NEWBY – SILENT BRICKS

A FICTIONAL LEGEND

by Rosanna Albertini

“There is a big difference between using a rock and making a rock.” (Kate Newby) 

Let’s imagine things and people never were, so we could

breath such emptiness in and out

and feel murmurs of silence

subject and names are gone

a field remains of impersonal vibrations

the simple fact of an existing energy field

as impersonal as ‘it rains’ ‘it’s cold’ ‘it’s foggy’

names can’t tell about it, verbs maybe can

no offense to time and space they don’t count

compared with human energy

incurable daughter of fate

no one nothing will change her

what kind of art now?

(Emmanuel Levinas, Le temps et l’autre, 1979. Translation from French RA)

One of the many answers could be:  Kate Newby’s Two aspirins a vitamin c tablet and some baking soda – 2015  In Los Angeles, at Laurel Doody.

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail.
Courtesy of the artist and of Laurel Doody. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Let’s imagine a beginning without time, the artist looking for a space to visit, landing on its flatness like an alien presence bringing presents in a quiet and friendly manner, so quiet that visitors, or recipients, if they exist, could easily ignore them. John Cage’s prepared piano’s distinct notes would trace the spirit of this presence better than words: liquid sounds, ponds of feelings for a landscape that only exists if some body’s expectations go astray, heading towards a field of sensations that float and fly, light feet on the floor.

I can hear you

making small holes

in the silence

rain

(Hone Tuwhare, Rain, in Deep River Talk, 1993)

In that landscape Kate’s art makes sense if we forget all the strings we attach to the word ‘meaning.’ An impersonal field of energy offers tactile surprises to the eyes: a small island of wax on a wooden skin, coins melted in clay, a couple of glass stones at the edge of the window sill, as if they were two feet waiting to fly rather than jump. And even more surprising, four irregular metal cilinders with a point that worked holes and lines and angles in the clay, helping the artist’s fingers. Her magic fingers, not merely tools. Strangely, they make me think of Mahuika in the Maori mythology, the image of the goddess grandmother who hides fire in her body, and gives it to the living humans pulling out her fingernails one by one, her fingers bursting into flame. Although Kate Newby is from New Zealand, this is only a fantasy of mine.

She carved small and big holes in each brick, made the bricks one by one preparing them for the kiln, pierced the silence of the matter introducing scratches, cavities, scars produced by pieces of metal or glass. Wounds of the same kind, in a place run by history, would be normal accidents happening over time. As I told before, time is gone. This is reverse archeology: a fictional legend.

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Kate Newby,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

It’s a cluster of unnamed,  brand new objects: never used, human hands made them all, they might not be useful or noticeable. The artist brought them into a friendly room, aware of their novelty which is first of all a lack of experience: who ever looked at them? In their primordial, perhaps pre-historical surface they wear without knowing, why are they sprinkled with something white looking like bird shit (what’s a bird?), or with colored pebbles and small shells (where do colors come from?), can they stand to be under scrutiny? Scrutiny is an architecture of thoughts as cold as a laser beam. The whole energy field could be destroyed.

A window, a thick expansion of green outside, emptiness in a room. I don’t know if Kate Newby still feels like a pile of leaves, this time she has aspirin, a tablet of vitamin c and baking soda in her mind’s pocket. Is she able to shut down her self and bring up only her (and our) alterations? Being impersonal like rain and dry like the destiny?

When she looks from afar at the scattered sculptures released by her hands,  she sees them together in her mind as they cannot be seen in the physical space where they are installed. Suspended from a branch outside the window, the musical fingers can perhaps visually connect to the glass feet, not to the bricks inside the room. They are dispersed family members, that only a mental vision would bring together. Distance and displacement don’t reduce her attachment. The conversation she had in mind in the making of the art has been slowly decanted into the objects’ physical quality, so as not to disturb the sediment, that is different for each material. A physical conversation between wind, leaves and silver fingers, and between the sky and the glass blocks, takes place outdoors; while the iron, that makes the clay red inside the room, reverberates the iron in her blood and viceversa: human and inhuman temperament of the metal share the same nature. A wish of infinity, in the blue pebbles?  The raw matter that is in her is also in the body of her art: an “incredible feeling” arouses her vision. She will never say it in words, nor should I. It’s a feeling of certainty, though, joined to the pleasure of giving.

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015
Courtesy of the artist and of Laurel Doody. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen