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The Warehouse Presents Topologies

Nobuo Sekine; Phase No. 10, 1968; wood, oil-based paint, and F.R.P.; Dallas Museum of Art and The Rachofsky Collection


Curated by Mika Yoshitake

The Warehouse

May 14 – December 28, 2018

Felix Gonzalez-Torres once said, “How do you reinvent—how do you deactivate—a space? How do you use space in ways that are subtly subversive, or subtly altering?” This provocation paved the way for his participatory and relational practice that interrogated the conditions of existence by activating the politics and poetics of space. This activation is a key notion of topology (“logic of place”) in the arts, a theory of spatial transformation in which space can be expanded, contracted, distorted and twisted, yet the structure itself remains invariable. Taking this formal definition as a launching point, the term denotes a field of semantic and sensory relations where one’s movement, rather than the static object itself, constitutes the “work.” A turn from the fixed structures of Euclidean geometry and empiricism, topology instead incorporates a breakdown of boundaries, open structures, or a crossing of disciplines that question systems of knowledge. Historically, these transformations range from surrealist encounters between found objects and the scientific world, gravity and entropy, to post-minimalist strategies of duration and process where artists conveyed the body and materials in-formation or in de-formation in order to explore multidirectional experiences of space.

The poetic interpretation of topology in the late 1960s as a source of inspiration for artists is internationally contemporaneous. In Japan, the idea was interpreted through a physics of form and foundational to Mono-ha’s breakthrough land art piece in 1968, Phase-Mother Earth.This work, by artist Nobuo Sekine, operates on a continuous renewal of perception through a cycle of creation and recreation. In the U.S. the idea was introduced into art criticism by Dan Graham in his seminal essay, “Subject Matter” (1969) defined as “a constant process of spatial warp…” where agency is given to objects in which “our visual field, itself in the process of alteration, shifts in a topology of expansion, contraction, or skew.”

Gathering roughly 100 works between 1952 and 2014 by seventy artists, Topologies cuts across time both diachronically and synchronically and draws from The Rachofsky Collection’s strong formal and conceptual emphases on works that integrate process and materiality. Each gallery presents topological themes that range from permutations and distortions in spatial dimension; inverses and shifts in the body’s phenomenological relationship to space; material transition based on gravity and entropy; politics of displacement; and reconceiving abject encounters between the synthetic and organic (speculative realism). These will be considered in terms of comparative, morphological, and synthetic methods of inquiry in the catalogue.