James Hoff
Utopia Landfill or Vacation in the Age of Sad Passion
Exhibition dates: November 5 - December 23, 2016
Opening reception: Saturday, November 5th, 6 - 8pm

Press Release

Callicoon Fine Arts is very pleased to present Utopia Landfill or Vacation in the Age of Sad Passion, James Hoff’s third exhibition with the gallery. Opening on November 5th, the exhibition features two new bodies of work, both of which ruminate on the evolving digitization of nature and the natural landscape. In the works shown here, the landscape painting genre is used to help define a contemporary environment ruled by the imperative of connectivity and computing. 

Imagine the verdant outdoors, the trees, their myriad leaves, the fragrant sloping ground; organically all is alive, yet dead or useless when viewed through the lens of connectivity. This framework has subtly crept into our daily lives and has realigned our relationship to our environment. 

Hoff set out to capture and record these landscapes using his cell phone in upstate New York and elsewhere over the last year. The result is a series of what the artist calls Useless Landscapes, which consist of etched copper on fiberglass, a material substrate used to make circuit boards. The process the artist employs to etch the works (using a silkscreen resist) is the same that electronic manufacturers use to make the circuit boards that drive our digital devices and is itself borrowed from the tradition of print making. Hoff redirects this material form and the circuit board production process back to that of aesthetics, disarming its digital functionality in an effort to record landscapes of network silence. 

This series is underscored by an installation that is comprised of found stones and rocks that the artist has painted with an urban, digital camouflage using a hydrographic process. Hoff’s use of camouflage points to shifts in the development of visual technologies in the early 20th century (namely the development of aerial photography that allowed for wide scale environmental mapping) that necessitated and exacerbated the development of camouflage during the First World War. Artists lead the way to developing this new visual strategy in which military personnel and equipment were painted in shifting patterns in an effort to disappear into the landscape and remain hidden, or disconnected, from the camera above. 

Hoff’s conflation of camouflage’s early mission with its contemporary digital counterpart also points to the use value of our mineral resources, which are now mined to build and maintain digital devices and hardware infrastructures, ensuring that a stroll through the forest is no longer a great escape but rather, a walk through the membrane of future computing. At this moment, hard drives are hiding in the landscape. 

James Hoff (b.1975) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. His work encompasses painting, sound, performance, and publishing among other media. He has performed and exhibited his art work extensively throughout the United States and Europe over the last ten years. Hoff is also a co-founder of Primary Information, a non-profit arts organization devoted to publishing artists’ books and art historical documents. Recent solo museum exhibitions include the B=R=I=C=K=I=N=G at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, Louisiana; and Black Box, Baco Arte Contemporanea, Bergamo Italy. Two-person and group exhibitions include We are the Center…, The Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York; From Minimalism into Algorithm, The Kitchen, New York; Eugen Gomringer &, Bielefelder Kunstverein, Bielefeld; Exploring Compositional Epistemologies A Series of Notional Synthesization on Topological Morphologies and Heuristic Gestures in the Realm of Sonic Language, Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis; Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art, The Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, MI; Drop Shadow, Kunsthall Oslo. Readings, talks and performances by Hoff have taken place at Mass MoCa, North Adams, Massachusetts; Artist’s Space, New York; MoMA, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Issue Project Room, New York; and La Monnaie/De Munt, Brussels, Belgium. 

For additional information contact Photi Giovanis at info@callicoonfinearts.com, or call 212-219-0326.

Callicoon Fine Arts is located at 49 Delancey Street between Forsyth and Eldridge Streets. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm. The nearest subway stops are the B and D trains at Grand Street and the F, J, M and Z trains at Delancey-Essex Street.