Shadowed! + elsetime: Ellen Rothenberg

Ellen Rothenberg, elsetime, 2015. Installation view, Sector 2337. Photo by Clare Britt.
Shadowed! spread from book. Design by Sonia Yoon. Green Lantern Press, 2016.
Shadowed! spread from book. Design by Sonia Yoon. Green Lantern Press, 2016.

About the exhibition: May 9 – July 3, 2015 / Sector 2337: elsetime, a solo exhibition by Ellen Rothenberg features new work in a wide range of media from photography, performance, and installation, elsetime examines the difficulty of artistic lineage exploring history’s dislocated presence. Central to Rothenberg’s artistic retcon is the image of her walking in the study of Bertolt Brecht. Rothenberg expands from there, refracting through additionally (and personally) significant figures like choreographer Simone Forti and writer Stefan Brecht; along with temporally specific locales like post-war Berlin, Woodstock, and downtown New York. Layering sites, shifting historical moments, and personae, elsetime is the material culmination of the artist negotiating, inserting, and revising past and future selves in the present now. A series of public programs entitled Not to be Taken is an additional element of elsetime.

Not to be Taken, a performance series invites select artists and thinkers to publicly use elsetime as a generative studio space in which to engage questions about legacy and politics, place and time, through discrete actions; these subjective, ephemeral responses momentarily transform the exhibition with the performer’s unique potential. A public conversation and discussion with scholar and art historian Hannah B. Higgins and visual culture theorist and photographer Shawn Michelle Smith was a central part of the programming for the exhibition.

“Anyone prepared to spend time with the work will be rewarded, not with answers, but with a deepened appreciation of how unnecessary such summaries are.”
James Pepper Kelley, Artslant

“We are presented with an exhibition of points of departure, an enigmatic proposal that is realized in nearly all of the works on display… what do we leave the exhibition with and what do we do with it when we get back home? “Elsetime” is an operation in ways to proceed forward, a challenging exhibition that provides rewards if you want them.” —Chris Reeves, Newcity

About the publication: published March 2018 / Green Lantern Press: Shadowed! confronts the slippage of time and action within Ellen Rothenberg’s exhibition elsetime. Beginning with a suite of elsetime photographs, the book continues with reflections on the show by Hannah B HigginsJeffrey Skoller, Caroline Picard, and Shawn Michelle Smith—spreading out from there into an artist’s archive that includes scanned fragments of writings by Stefan Brecht,  Allen Ginsberg, Angela Davis, and  transcribed contributions from  Simone Forti. A subsequent section includes documentation of performances produced in response to elsetime by artists, activists, and musicians. Shadowed! ends with the transcript of a public conversation that took place within the original exhibit, capturing a discussion that incorporates an active audience. By layering these performative, photographic, and written encounters, Shadowed! allows the afterimage of an exhibition to unfurl beyond the gallery, beyond this book, and into its own elsetime.

“Rothenberg’s work investigates the tension between looking toward the past in the present moment, and the inevitable contraction into the future—as if to say we are all Januses looking back to disparate points in time, and in doing so take them with us into the future.” –BOMB

“Ellen Rothenberg’s book/archive serves as a complex memory machine where the global 20th century’s cultural, political, and social revolutions encounter the local now. The captivating imagery of Rothenberg’s reflexive and expansive work lifts you out of history’s shadows and makes you feel alive, resisting the wave of inevitability. Shadowed! is timely. This book is a gift to anyone curious about or deeply interested in material culture, history, social change, and contemporary art.”—IRINA ARISTARKHOVA, author of Hospitality of the Matrix: Philosophy, Biomedicine, and Culture.