Michael Jones McKean: we float above to spit and sing

May 17, 2014 - July 31, 2014

Opening reception May 17, 2014, 6 p.m. - 11 p.m.


Emerson Dorsch is proud to present we float above to spit and sing, our first solo exhibition and Miami debut of Michael Jones McKean. Curated by Tara Strickstein.

Best known for his large-scale installations, Michael Jones McKean presents a selection of new sculptures, collage, and low-relief wall works in his solo exhibition, we float above to spit and sing. Pressuring the limits of the narrative potential of sculpture, the exhibition assumes the mystical quality of myth or allegory. In this context, art-making is an act of magic or compression in which a representation is made a surrogate, and the process of making this surrogate endows it with power.

In the sculptures and installations of Michael Jones McKean, effigies and representations of natural objects and contemporary technology cohabitate in a narrative system of vignettes, that together function as a meditation on our relationship to objects. His wall boxes, in which elegantly crafted representations levitate in fields of softly-hued light, are situated where the screen and museum display meet ancient narrative sculpture traditions. Under the keenly historical eye of McKean the objects he employs experience a flattening of classification. This flattening exposes an unstable relationship between objects and our shared realities, so that associations can be exchanged indiscriminately from a provocative index of forms.

Considered in a broader archaeological sense, the practice of Michael Jones McKean can be defined by a labored contemplation on the ontology of objects. we float above to spit and sing vacillates between a proclivity for fetishizing and an object-oriented shadow world freed from human associations. A place, the artist notes, where objects, when they choose to visit us, do so with all their unknowable intelligence and perverse strangeness intact. His disembodied heads and limbs thus act as placeholders - timeless and out of context - denoting a corporeal, mind-dependent, anthropocentric alternative.

Many of the more exotic materials in the exhibition are embedded, encased, or embalmed inside of representations of other objects. In this type of hoodoo, where objects can contaminate other objects, power is rooted in provenance. Their back-stories provide access to anima or spirit voice. A selection of materials in we float above to spit and sing includes: wood, paint, stainless steel, wigs, prosthetic silicon, makeup, bristle cone pine wood, brass, marine resin, medical arm cast, cell phones, jewelry, clothing, dried Himalayan wild flowers, ancient pottery shards, SeaMarker rescue dye, gem stones, mineral fragments, global meteorite fragments, fabric swatches from ethnographic blankets, coral, vitamins, Adderall and morphine.

Michael Jones McKean (b. 1976, Micronesia) is the recipient of numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Nancy Graves Foundation Award, and an Artadia Award. McKean has been awarded fellowships at The Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York City, The Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Recent exhibitions include the Center for Curatorial Studies: Bard, Annedale-On-Hudson, NY, Horton Gallery: New York, NY, Manifestation Internatiationle d art deQuebec Biennale, Gentili Apri: Berlin, Germany, The Art Foundation: Athens, Greece, Parisian Laundry: Montreal, Canada and Shenkar University, Tel Aviv, Israel. McKean is currently Associate Professor in the Sculpture and Extended Media department at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Concurrent with his exhibition, Michael Jones McKean will be an artist-in-residence May 12-June 15 at Cannonball in downtown Miami. For more information about Cannonball, please visit www.cannonballmiami.org.


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