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Paul Sietsema makes paintings, drawings, and ﬁlms, using photographs and other objects that reference speciﬁc bodies of knowledge as starting points for exploring ways in which imagery and material affect our understanding of culture and history. In his 2014 35 millimeter ﬁlm Abstract Composition, a cardboard sign rotates in space and with each rotation displays a brief description, punched into its surface, of a series of different objects. Sietsema notes that ‘the punched dot letters of the sign represent the infrastructural aesthetics that exist within manufacturing – a sublanguage within automated industrial production.’
The objects described in the work are all drawn from online auction websites – modest, everyday artifacts caught in a network of international exchange, described in the most rudimentary fashion, and available for purchase and physical distribution. The image itself is a virtual object, generated and animated through CGI, which then regains a material reality by being printed and projected as a 35 mm ﬁlm. The projector is an antiquated piece of technology, operating now almost as a kind of engine or generator, while the work itself is situated somewhere between digital animation, sculpture, ﬁlm and concrete poetry.
Sietsema (born 1968, Los Angeles, USA) lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Kunsthalle Basel, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Monographs on Sietsema’s work have been published by Kunsthalle Basel, the Wexner Center for the Arts, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Whitney Museum.
Abstract Composition, 2014. © Paul Sietsema, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.