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Jamie Isenstein, “Sand Lamp”, 2014

Jamie Isenstein, “Sand Lamp”, 2014


curated by Nicola Trezzi

3 Jun 2019 - 1 Jul 2019

“Sand Lamp (68 kg)is a sculpture, performance and domestic object all at once. The work consists of a mound sand that supports an illuminated lightbulb in a lampshade. Installing the work is a bit like building a sand castle on the beach – each iteration is different. While generally supported by the sand, the lightbulb and shade seem to have the potential to collapse at any moment, adding an element of “Slapstick Comedy” to what would normally be a static object. In English and in other languages, the human body is used as a metaphor to describe different parts of lamps, for example lamps have “arms” and “feet.” In this case the “body” of the lamp is like the human body, made of shifting matter that changes over time (like sand in an hourglass). The work also riffs on Robert Smithson’s Earthworks, specifically his works involving mirrors and sand, including Mirrors and Shelly Sand(1969-1970), a work consisting of piles of sand supporting a line of mirrors. While Smithson used sand as an entropic material meant as a metaphor for environmental forces, I use sand to reference entropy of the body. By turning a natural material into a domestic object, Sand Lamp (68 kg)also humorously alludes to Smithson’s use of mirrors for their ability to dislocate, to confuse inside and outside.”

–Jamie Isenstein

Jamie Isenstein’sSand Lampis the tenth chapter of “5779,” the exhibition project opening the first season of BUILDINGBOX, which is an independent space within the premises of BUILDING, characterized by its own unique program. The opening project, curated by Nicola Trezzi, opens on the week of Rosh HaShana, which is the beginning of the new year – the year 5779, as the title says – according to the Hebrew calendar.

Following these premises, a window gallery which is visible 24/7, and a calendar which consists of 12 months (Nisan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Av, Elul, Tishrei, Marcheshvan, Kislev, Tevet, Shevat, and Adar), “5779” is a group exhibition in which several artworks are not presented next to each other but rather one after the other. The structure of the calendar – day after day, month after month, year after year – becomes the guideline for the presentation of artworks by several artists; in doing so, this structure transforms the essence behind group exhibitions, from coexistence and juxtaposition to linearity and procession.

Furthermore, this specific format deconstructs the very core of the group exhibition format, which is, by definition, an exhibition in which several artworks, by several artists, are presented next to each other in a confined space and for a specific amount of time. With “5779” the idea of a group exhibition in which works of art by several artists appear, in the same space, one after the other – substituting one another, replacing one another – suggests an inversion in the equation at the base of exhibition making. Rather than rooting exhibition making into space, as it usually happens, this time the exhibition is rooted in time rather than space.


To reinforce the predominance of time over space, a complete overturning of exhibition making and of its premises, is the decision to display artworks that are not only on view 24/7 but also that are ‘fed’ by electricity – neon signs, works with light bulbs, videos, etc. –, works that are independent sources of light, “small suns” (although the Hebrew calendar is not purely solar but “lunisolar”) giving the rhythm of time.

Jamie Isenstein’sSand Lamp will remain on view until July1, during the days of Sivan. At the end of the 12 months BUILDING will present a catalogue conceived as a calendar and featuring all the 12 artworks presented during the year, which will be revealed month after month.

Biographical notes

Jamie Isenstein (1975, Portland, Oregon, United States) lives and works in New York. Isenstein’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions in several locations such as: Institute of Fine Arts, New York University in New York, Gluck50 in Milan, Joseloff Gallery inWest Hartford(US), Hartford Art School in Hartford CT (US) with Michael E. Smith, Head Space, Crisp-Ellert Art Museum in St. Augustine(US),Flagler College in St. Augustine (US), Meyer Riegger in Berlin, Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery in Portland, Reed College in Portland, The Arcade Gallery at the University of Texas in Austin, etc. Galerie in Prague, Michael Benevento Gallery in Los Angeles, Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, Galerie Giti Nourbakhsch in Berlin and Guild & Greyshkul in New York.

She has participated in group exhibitions at institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center in Atlanta, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem (US), Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester (United Kingdom),MoMA|PS1in New York, Kunsti Museum of Art in Vaasa (Finland), Arizona State University Art Museum, Phoenix, CCS Bard Hessel Museum in Annandale-On-Hudson(US), Davis Museum at Wellesley College in Wellesley (US), Maier Museum of Art in Lynchburg(US),Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg (US), CCA Wattis in San Francisco, mumok in Vienna and in recurring exhibitions and festivals such as Manchester International Festival and the Liverpool Biennial.