Thursday August 3, 2017 | by Stella Porter

OPENING: Justin Ginsberg challenges complacency in S12 residency culminating in exhibit

A new show at S12 Gallery this month will see experimental glass artist Justin Ginsberg using household objects to explore a personal issue: the constraints of domesticity. Opening on August 4th, "Considerations and Ants" features a series of drawings, installations, videos, and objects created over the course of a summer-long residency at the Norwegian studio and gallery. Though this marks something of an aesthetic break from the artist's past work, the new exhibition continues his efforts to challenge viewers' assumptions about common structures by confronting the limitations the home can impose on freedom -- both as a physical cage and a source of financial confinement.

“There’s this paradox of trying to create comfort and rest for yourself, and in order to achieve that, you have to work incessantly,” Ginsberg told the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet in a telephone interview. The word "ants" in the exhibition's title is meant to highlight this, the way human beings build relationships and work obsessively, by an analogy to the interactions of insects like ants and bees. “I’m fascinated by the way they organize their society. I see some similarities and relationships in the way we operate,” Ginsberg said. The title's other half, "considerations" is meant to reflect the questioning he hopes to inspire; Ginsberg has stripped away many domestic objects to their core, revealing an underlying aesthetic ugliness, and even painted the gallery walls an unsightly yellow to create a sense of discomfort.

The title itself is taken from a Google mistranslation of a Norwegian book title that caught his eye in a book store. Running with the idea of broken translations and domestic items, Ginsberg had a bound copy of the entire book mistranslated by Google Translate made, and placed it in the gallery.

While the art over the course of his career may seem aesthetically different at first glance, Ginsberg says it is all interconnected thematically in his ongoing exploration of the structures we use to operate in the world, pushing both the materials he works with and the ideas he is investigating. In the past, he has tried to consider the materiality of glass outside of our normal expectations of its behavior, which he discussed with John Drury in the Winter 2015 issue of GLASS Quarterly (Issue #141). He says this new exhibit feels more personal than others -- interested in his own obsession with working, and having recently purchased his first home, he seeks to question what we consider normal in the fabric of our daily lives. 

The exploration of our self-domestication was to Ginsberg validated by a quote attributed to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ellen Goodman, who said, “Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for -- in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.”

As head of the glass area and assistant professor of practice at the University of Texas at Arlington, Ginsberg challenges his students to rethink what is normal. He hopes students will be liberated from conventionality and traditional standards of artistic evaluation in order to be able to express themselves free of limitations. He will speak on this subject at October’s Robert M. Minkoff Academic Symposium at UrbanGlass.

The exhibit at S12 opens on August 4th at 7 p.m., and Ginsberg will give a talk on August 5th at 4 p.m.



Justin Ginsberg
"Considerations and Ants"
August 4th, 2017- September 10th, 2017
S12 Open Access Studio and Gallery
Sparebanksgaten 4A, 5017 Bergen, Norway
tel. +47 930 33 510

Glass: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for more than 40 years.