Artwork > 2023

Joan Heemskerk
Johnathan Payne
Lilan Yang

July 07 - August 25, 2023
Reception: Friday, 07 July, 6:00 - 8:00pm

“The world is large, but in us it is as deep as the sea.” Rainer Maria Rilke

Atlas is a group exhibition including works by Joan Heemskerk, Johnathan Payne, and Lilan Yang that considers the psychic and social underpinnings of mappings—from macro to micro geographies of places, movements, and subjectivities. The artists, in differing ways, infuse visual coordinates with history, subjectivity, and desire. They refocus and remodel modes of representation that transcend figuration.

“So alike were the approaches and the products of painters and cartographers that until the Renaissance there was no terminology to distinguish clearly between maps and paintings.” Ronald Rees

Modernism saw the return of diagrammatic forms to the language of visual arts, opening new vistas and pictorial fields just as aviation and microbiology allowed new perspectives, from the aerial to the molecular. As critic Rosalind Krauss has intimated, rather the rise of abstraction rejecting the world, it might just have transfigured it by providing a secular refuge for the metaphysical: “The grid’s mythic power is that it makes us able to think we are dealing with materialism (or sometimes science, or logic) while at the same time it provides us with a release into belief (or illusion, or fiction).“

Joan Heemskerk’s “A2B: SORRY WE MISSED YOU” (2022) is a four screen installation that tracks shipping traffic using GPS+AIS (the Automatic Identification System maritime locator) and visualization software. The title refers to the European shipping company A2B and to the notes consumers receive to inform them that their online order couldn’t be delivered. The artist used a mobile GPS+AIS scanner at different sites across the Netherlands to receive the coordinates of nearby moving ships. This area was the starting point for many voyages of colonization and trade over the centuries and is now a central locus of the logistics, opportunities, and inequities of the digitally driven international marketplace.

As the work maps maritime traffic from the land of the busiest shipping area in Europe—there is always a relationship between earth and water. Ships here are confined to road-like networks, creating dynamic pictorial systems that are at once historical, abstract, and highly attuned to the desire and consumption embedded in the ever-accelerating vortex of customer fulfillment.

Johnathan Payne presents three collaged paintings made from paper, paint, and thread. Each work is a vibrant and intricate grid: one has dramatic colored pathways upon a vivid monochrome background; one comprises bands or fields of complementary colors in a textile-like design; and one is a dynamic monochrome that contains, within its mix, a diversity of earthy colors.

Payne’s works visualize interconnections, suggesting landscapes, roads, personal histories, and desires. They act as visceral maps of the interceptions and interactions of body and mind: “Hulk Highway” is embedded with the pleasures and the terrors of being on the road; “Lavender Legacy” is a homage to the craft of quilting and the American South; and “Sedona Son” is an ode to the Southwest of the USA where the artist lived as a child—its tonality and geometry imbued with memory and desire.

The artist sees abstraction as a means to expand the limits of representation: “As a queer abstractionist of color, I reject the notion that the depiction and spirit of marginalized people must take the form of figurative or photographic representation…For me, there is a relationship between fractal geometries, craft-based art processes, painting and utopian aesthetics.”

Lilan Yang’s video “CineML: Paris” (2021) is a painterly, semi-abstract animation that uses machine learning to poetically visualize the relationship between filming locations and real-life landmarks. Yang considers the ways cinematic tourism colors people’s experiences and memories of the places they visit. She trained several generative adversarial network (GAN) models–in a sense creating a contest between a number of AI networks—to analyze public Instagram images of the Parisian locations of Richard Linklater’s drama “Before Sunset” (2004), composing a series of computer-generated moving images based on collective documents of Paris. Images taken by people recreating their experience of the romantic film are mediated through AI to produce ethereal cityscapes.

Joan Heemskerk works in photography, video, software, games, websites, NFTs, performances, and installations, and was a member of the pioneering collective JODI. Heemskerk (Kaatsheuvel, the Netherlands, 1968) lives and works in Dordrecht, NL. Recent exhibitions include: “CABLE,” Folia,, online (solo)(2023); “PROTOTYPE,” NRW Female Artist Award, online (solo)(2022); “Worlds of Networks,” Centre Pompidou, Paris (2022); “GeoGoo,” Société, Berlin, Germany (solo)(2021); “Collection 1970s–Present,” MoMA, New York (2019-2020); “Cultural Matter: Max Payne Cheats Only,” Lima, Amsterdam, NL (solo)(2019): and “404 Schrott aller Art,” NKTaxi, Noordkaap, Akademie der Künste der Welt, Cologne, Germany (solo)(2019).

Johnathan Payne works across drawing, painting, fibers, and installation, and engages in traditional and alternative modes of object and image production. Payne (Houston, TX, 1991) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He holds a BA in art from Rhodes College, Memphis, TN, and an MFA in painting and printmaking from Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT. Exhibitions include: “Keeping Score,” Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Los Angeles, CA (2022); “A Bridge to Uncertainty,” Beeler Gallery, Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, OH (solo); “Threads,” Foxy Production, New York, NY (both 2021); “Miss Lizzie’s Lattice” with Lex Brown, Deli Gallery, New York, NY (2020); “Kink and Politics: The Ties That Bind,”curated by Wardell Milan, David Nolan Gallery, New York, NY (2017); and “Meet Me Where I’m At,” Crosstown Arts, Memphis, TN (solo)(2015).

Lilan Yang is an artist and experimental filmmaker whose practice explores the myth of cities and landscapes, ways of seeing and unseeing, and sentiments of remembering and forgetting, through lens-based analog media such as 16mm filmmaking and 35mm photography, as well as digital technologies such as machine learning and data visualization. Yang (Chongqing, China, 1997) is based in Boston, MA. She has recently completed an MFA in Digital + Media at RISD, Providence, RI. Exhibitions include: 61st Ann Arbor Film Festival, Ann Arbor, MI; “Noise Spectrum,” PROCESS Experimental Film Festival, Baltic Analog Lab, Riga, Latvia (both 2023); “Making Moves,” Gallery 263, Cambridge, MA; “Transitory Void,” Digital + Media Biennial, Boston Cyberarts Gallery, Boston, MA; “1 + 1 = 22,” Digital + Media Biennial, Sol Koffler Gallery, Providence, RI; “Of Soiled Body,” RISD Museum, Providence, RI; and MONO NO AWARE XVI, Brooklyn, NY (all 2022). Screenings include: Beijing International Short Film Festival, Beijing, China (2023); and “Mekas 100,” Ultra Cinema Festival, Mexico City, Mexico (2022).

With thanks to Lia Gangitano and Participant Inc., New York.

“Week in Culture: July 3 - July 9, 2023.” Cultured 3 July 2023. Web.
Press Release & Checklist

Intallation view, Atlas
Intallation view, Atlas
Foxy Production
New York, NY