What Things Don’t
YIN HO • THEO MULLEN
OCTOBER 11 – NOVEMBER 17, 2019
OPENING RECEPTION FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11, 6–9 PM
Whether reconstructing a past or imagining, against all current evidence to the contrary, a future, it is a challenge to not only imagine a world unlike our own, but also imagine reacting to it in a manner unlike ourselves. In their practices, Yin Ho and Theo Mullen model this difficulty, regarding their materials not in terms of their immediate evocations, but as if they’d never encountered them before, arranging them in new relations to conjure new meanings, constructing rebuses that refuse to sound out any familiar phrase. Despite parallels in their methods, they produce bodies of work with distinct temporal affects, Ho’s work as anticipatory reconstructions of a distant future, while Mullen’s work simultaneously alienates and appears as if always already there.
The work of Yin Ho has a feeling of contingency, as if we have caught these objects moments after clicking into position, and they might appear differently if we were to look again later. Responding to what she describes as a sense of rightness in the relations between things, Ho combines and recombines in search of that sense, often using components that imply a third, absent party—bookends without books, hooks with nothing to hang on them, bones without bodies—functional absences that give the impression we’re looking at objects that have outlived their usefulness, or are perhaps prefiguring their own utility. With materials ranging from polished stone to cast wax to the hardware store shelf brackets one purchases when one simply needs to get something off the floor, she creates graceful formations that range in time from a visceral present tense to an elegant if baffling future.
Theo Mullen pulls off the rare trick of focusing on the detritus of the urban environment without getting mired in that nostalgia for old construction that is itself so old we might feel nostalgic for it. Rather, his work takes cast-off items, both in isolation and in combination with one another, arranging them such that while their age is apparent, they appear to us as entirely new things. Mullen’s practice is rooted in photography, but he treats the photograph in sculptural terms, as a kind of “cast” of the world. While the objects he works with have their own histories, he recasts them in arrangements that deemphasize those histories while still creating an uncanny sense that whatever we’re encountering has been awaiting us for some time.
Yin Ho is a Brooklyn-based artist and writer. A graduate of the ITP program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and the London School of Economics, her recent shows include “Cucumber Skin Jacket,” a solo exhibition at Appendix Gallery in Columbus, OH, and “Science Window,” a three-person show at Kayoko Yuki in Tokyo, JP. Her work was recently added to the permanent collection of Centre Pompidou as part of the Dust: The plates of the present archive. She is a part of An/other New York, a collective of Asian and Asian American cultural workers, and a former member of Tiger Strikes Asteroid, a group of artist-run, non-profit galleries. Her writing has appeared in Rhizome and Artforum, among others.
Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, Theo Mullen received a BFA from the University of Colorado Denver in 2007 and went on to receive an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2014. He has had exhibitions at the Ruffin Gallery at the University of Virginia, Vox Populi and Fjord Gallery in Philadelphia, Lawndale Art Center in Houston, Franz Joseph Kai in Austria. Mullen was an Instructor of photography at the University of Virginia from 2014–2016 and now currently teaches photography at the University of Pennsylvania. He has attended residencies at the Wassaic Project, Vermont Studio Center and RAIR. This summer he will attend a residency at the Institute of Art and Urbanistics in Berlin in 2020. Mullen currently lives and works in Philadelphia.