"I think it comes down to shorthand, again. Comedy is really so complex... It's a whole different economy of thought and expression. The best way around an awful subject can be a joke. ...This is where humor, or timing, or a punch line would come in... it's a way to express something deeper or possibly more troubling, with visual shorthand. That could take the form of a clichéd device (a cane clears the screen) or just something insane that doesn't usually line up, like stapling a washcloth to a tire."*
Comedy, timing, and gesture are the keys to what unfolds on and off-screen in Alex Hubbard's video works. Hubbard applies the logic of slapstick and physical comedy to objects, their relationships, and potential transformations, both within the frame, as well as over time, through precise pacing and edits. In the tabletop videos he began making in 2007, paint splashes or sprays across the screen, liquids pour and spill, combinations of objects are assembled, knocked down or demolished, and Hubbard (or his hands) are seen manipulating and orchestrating. Later works dive deeper into digital artifice, seamlessly compositing together layers of activity—and often multiple Alex Hubbards—in a reality-defying vision of irrational cause and effect.
The studio becomes Hubbard's sound stage in these works. Gesture after gesture is captured by the camera, then meticulously pruned and arranged within editing software. In these videos, Hubbard's attention is focused on the act, or perhaps the action, of art-making in the studio. If painting is a detective story—in which gesture is gleaned and traced from preserved brushstrokes and the altered surface of a canvas—Hubbard's works come closer to a haunted home improvement show or a perverse television program about painting. His actual gestures unfold in front of the viewer, but are processed, tweaked, and augmented through special effects. Hubbard often favors Foley sound over the real thing. Influenced by artists such as Stuart Sherman and Fischli/Weiss, Hubbard charts his own course. Where his predecessors relied on sleight of hand or the magic of video edits, Hubbard applies the mindset of Photoshop to performance.
This past winter, Hubbard traveled to Nassau in the Bahamas, where he shot footage for two new videos, which will be shown for the first time at EAI. On location, Hubbard's explorations of editing, timing, and delivery are displaced away from found and selected objects and from activity within the studio. In these new works, they are shifted onto chance moments in the real world, found locations, and staged behavior—occasionally incorporating the artist himself.
*From Bringing It To The Table, a conversation between Alex Hubbard and Anthony Huberman in Mousse Magazine (2010).
Alex Hubbard was born in 1975 in Toledo, Oregon. He received his BFA from the Pacific Northwest College of Art and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program. One-person exhibitions of his work have been presented at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Midway Contemporary Art Center, Minneapolis; and in New York at Maccarone Gallery, The Kitchen, Team Gallery and Reena Spaulings Fine Art. Internationally, Hubbard has had solo exhibitions at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich; Gaga Contemporary, Mexico City; Simon Lee Gallery, London; Castillo/Corrales, Paris and Mercer Union Centre for Contemporary Art, Toronto. His work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including the 2010 Whitney Biennial; Greater New York, MoMA PS1; Looking Back: The White Columns Annual; and at SculptureCenter, Swiss Institute; Greene Naftali Gallery and Friedrich Petzel Gallery, all in New York; the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis; Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Miami; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago; China Art Objects, Los Angeles; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Le Consortium, Dijon; Halle für Kunst & Medien, Graz, Austria; Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels; Sutton Lane Gallery and Vilma Gold Gallery in London.
Alex Hubbard’s solo exhibition Magical Rámon and The Five Bar Blues is on view at Maccarone Gallery through June 1, 2013.
Hubbard lives and works in New York.
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