The majority of our universe is energy and matter that we cannot see. The dark matter that overwhelms our earthly objects emits no light, and is therefore a nebulous thing to represent, something that is more an idea than a vision. French artist Abdelkader Benchamma is fascinated with these cosmic mysteries, and in an installation at the Drawing Center called Representation of Dark Matter, he sketched in tiny pen and India ink lines, shaded with charcoal, a huge drawing of what, to our eyes, is nothing.
“I really liked the challenge of giving form to something that’s so arcane and cannot be seen by the naked eye,” curator Joanna Kleinberg Romanow told Hyperallergic. “The result is a drawing that segues from representation, with imagery inspired by encyclopedia renderings of the Milky Way and the Big Bang, to pure fantasy: ideas and imagery conjured in Abdelkader’s imagination.”
Representation of Dark Matter is the first in a new series at the Drawing Center where artists are invited to fill the stairwell with site-specific installations. Benchamma’s drawing opened in April, and after 12 months will be painted over white to prepare for a new interpretation of the space.
Romanow explained that as the Drawing Center’s first on-site wall drawing, there were a lot of unforeseen challenges when working in the narrow stairwell with a scaffold. “Abdelkader was incredibly resourceful in finding ways to gain access to all of the area’s surfaces, especially those inaccessible by the scaffold,” she said. “Aside from a lot of acrobatics, at one point he created a ‘drawing instrument’ comprised of a long measuring stick with a marker attached to it in order to reach those impervious surfaces. As a result, he was able to achieve a fully immersive constellation.”
Benchamma said in an interview with Studio 360 that “the spectator can really go inside to feel the drawing” and “it’s like a paradox between the precision of the drawing, everything is very precise, but at the end you can’t say what it is.” The completed work is a vortex of moving lines, the details emerging as you climb the stairs, representing in a way how all matter has this gravitational pull, even if we can’t see it. Benchamma often approaches huge ideas of astrophysics in his art, such as in his 2011 monograph Dark Matter published in conjunction with an exhibition at Galerie du jour agnès b. in Paris. In those monochromatic, densely drawn black lines, shown in the time-lapse video provided by the Drawing Center below, is an attempt to unravel and connect with this almost unfathomable power in our universe.
Abdelkader Benchamma: Representation of Dark Matter continues at the Drawing Center (35 Wooster Street, Soho, Manhattan) through March 1, 2016.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very New York art events this month, including Lee Lozano, Cindy Sherman, Tokuko Ushioda, Anas Albraehe, and more.
The art establishment was never quite sure what to do with a self-taught artist like Basquiat, who owed as much to bebop and William S. Burroughs’s cut-up technique as he did to African influences.
International audiences have free access to the media collections of MMCA Korea, Sharjah Art Foundation, and ArkDes through this subscription-based art streaming platform.
Kadish’s fossil-like heads, forms, and figures remind us that every civilization, including our own, eventually collapses.
In every role she held, Vendryes advocated for marginalized people and celebrated the cultural contributions of the Black and queer communities.
Convened by Erika Sprey, Lamin Fofana, Sky Hopinka, Emmy Catedral, and Manuela Moscoso, the public program unfolds this summer at CARA in New York City.
Stanton, who died of AIDS complications in 1984, left behind an engaging body of work, a moving tribute to a bygone generation of creative minds.
Baz Luhrmann’s film Elvis and Danny Boyle’s miniseries Pistol are both overly fixated on the influence their respective musicians’ managers had on them.
The Bay Area art book fair is back this July with free programming at three different on-site venues, new exhibitors, and fundraising editions from renowned artists.
In the wake of the Roe v. Wade decision, arts workers and reproductive rights organizations are collaborating on educational resources for accessing safe procedures.
The couple launched the Futureverse Foundation, a grantmaking organization that aims to “help keep the metaverse widely accessible.”
The museum’s “pay-what-you-wish” policy will remain in place for New York State residents and tri-state students, but out-of-state adults will pay $5 extra.