Sonnenzimmer, One of “Flums”,, 2015, Cast record on string, 12 x 6 inches, Installation view, Center for Book and Paper Arts, Columbia College, 2015.

Simultaneous: Seripop & Sonenzimmer

April 9, 2015 | Published Articles, Writing

“We’ve been friends and fans of Seripop since the early 2000’s when we (Sonnenzimmer and Seripop) both began making screen printed posters… Though our aesthetic is notably different, our work tends to be much more pushed back and quiet, they have a similar use of formal exploration and material experimentation that guides our processes. In the end they merge intuition with structure in some way. Developing the show in tandem, we both kept in mind that this would be a shared space, so I think the bodies of work both function individually and as an exhibit.’” —Sonnenzimmer 

Simultaneous: Seripop & Sonnenzimmer, curated by Austin-based Julia Hendrickson, platforms the work of two ambitious collaborative duos—the first, Seripop from Montréal comprised of Yannick Desranleau and Chloe Lum; the second,Sonnenzimmer, made up of Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakinishi and located in Chicago. What is interesting about the show is the way two simultaneous agendas emerge—each unique, lush, and graphic. These aesthetics, though strong and settled in their respective objectives, are nevertheless complimentary. It’s a frequency thing. There is a rhythm to the show, and the artists’ interactive pleasure is contagious. In the work of these two pairs, two visual approaches emerge like musical themes; distinct in and of themselves, they nevertheless congeal, creating a copacetic, energetic environment.

Both Sonnenzimmer and Seripop began as poster artists moving through the music-and-poster scene. Sonnenzimmer’s roots hearken back to Punk Planet and an apprenticeship with Jay Ryan; since then, Nick Butcher has toured the country off and on with his own musical interests as Nadine Nakanishi has delved deeper into the politics of typography and layout. Their poster/music production shifted into a design studio that doubles as their artist studio. A parallel narrative emerges with Seripop, who started as AIDS Wolf, an internationally touring band, and made posters. Seripop grew interested in the way their posters changed over time once installed in public space and transitioned away from music into a focused, studio art practice. “Our antecedents as poster artists informed the way we composed with images and materials in the gallery,” Desranleau said in a recent email correspondence. “We saw posters in the street layered and decaying, revealing information from previous posters underneath…There was an interesting story going on there, with the material showing a kind of cumulative history of its making, manipulation, and subsequent exposure.”

Seripop’s installations occupy space with aplomb. One work in the gallery’s outer landing, Re: The Stiffness That We Could Not Overcome Through Pries and Tries (2015) reads like a three-dimensional cartoon diagram of the painting process. Think of Roy Lichtenstein’s later sculptures: in Three Brushtrokes (1984). Lichtenstein translates three strokes of paint into his stereotypical comic/pop vernacular, only to translate that interpretation a second time into three-dimensional space. Seripop is looser with its approach to dimensionality and scrappier with materials: sheets of translucent plastic hang from the gallery ceiling. These layers are printed with abstract color and pattern in select areas as three pairs of olive green hobby horses add a vertical line between each set of hanging plastic sheets; lying flat on each hobby horse are two strips of variously colored carpets. Two yellow and black Styrofoam tubes appear as well, as though illustrating chords of paint. Looking at the tableau from the side, one is overwhelmed by the dimensional mess of it all; the diagonal lines of the hobby horse legs play against the architectural peculiarities of the room—the slatted wooden floor, for instance, or the angle of a nearby wall. When examined straight on, however, an abstract picture congeals. Suddenly it is as if Seripop has made a playful dissection of abstract painting processes.


Read the rest of this article on The Seen.