Jesse Ash – Artist Talk

Jesse Ash came to talk at Wimbledon this week. He showed work with images that he takes from the media and told us of his interest with the presentation of trust i.e the unwritten contract of trust between us and our information outlets. (If this post seems a little scattered in its content this will be because I have left some notes in that may not be in context. Its not to confuse you, person reading this, its just to remind me).

Punctuation as a drawing tool rather than in the context of the written article. Constellation of punctuation. Mirrored the text and took out all the words leaving the punctuation.- This is a description of a piece of work I can not find a picture of. It wasn’t terribly effective though.

“When hands fold out to make screens” an 8mm film. Ash worked with a man who used his hands for advertising. Ash was interested at the build up of journalists outside gaza in 2008 (The IDF wouldn’t comply with the Israeli Supreme court, who ruled to allow journalists inside Gaza when the crossings between Israel and Palestinian city were open) They weren’t aloud in to report, forced to stand on a hill to see the explosions. Ash talked about the restriction of journalism and the feeling of being close but not close enough, proximity. The “hand actor” learnt the moves of the reporters who were reporting on the flood of journalists sat outside Gaza. Ash created a gestural description of the story, making it more physical. He transcribed the words from the reports which the hand actor had acted out and printed them on to paper. He proceeded to fold them into three dimensional triangles which would sit at the base of his installation. An amendment here. Ash didn’t make the triangles himself, he invited his friends over for dinner and while he cooked food his hoard of friends folded the story. The workshop mentality of his friends making the triangular models resonated some how with Ash although he claimed to be unsure exactly how. All the elements of tactile touch (stack of embossed paper)and the physicality of the work started to make sense.

Words that fold out to make screens, 2009

Robert Morris, Box with the sound of its own making. The box was in New york. His brother Joe, lived in New York. Jesse told of how he had always wanted to see this piece of artwork but never had the opportunity, always being in the wrong city or never having the time. He decided to turn the fact that he could never and perhaps would never see the box, into a work of art in response to his situation.  Jesse asked his brother to go and see the box. He then asked for a description, a description of the size of the plinth, the colour and type of wood, the sounds he could hear, the dimensions of the box, he squeezed out as much information as he could which he used to recreate the box. I am unsure weather or not he includes the sound of him making his version or not. Every time he makes the new box he gets someone else who has seen the original to discribe it to him which changes the boxes dimenions and type of wood. The work becomes a conversation between all these people. Five or six exist.

Box with the sound of it own making, 1961

Review is a piece of work which Ash commissions. He pays a critic to fabricate a review of one of his shows before it starts. The review is framed and shown at the beginning of the gallery as a piece of work. The critic only has the flyer to work from, which may or may not include artists he knows. This piece, again, works with the concept of trust and the contracts of trust that we keep with people who claim to have been somewhere or seem something. An example of this is cited, Jayson Blair, New York Times. Click HERE to read an over view of this story and HERE to read a detailed description of Blairs actions.

The Sculptor’s Nightmare, 2011; installation view at Tulips & Roses, Brussels

His work is conceptually driven and has rules but every so often (above) he will allow himself to not be in control and let the work surprise him. Which I think puts more emphasis on the reason rather than the product. The film is intimate and projected onto a tiny screen sat on a table. This reflects the nature of the small marks made on the film and the closeness that this work demands.

Jesse Ash, A battle for narrative, installation view at Monitor 2011

Tent is a piece that was commissioned. A scaled up version of the work pictured above. The design was based on the bust of the speaker of the house of commons. Tent refers to the temperamental nature of speech. “difficult to pin down” playing with the parallels. 45 minutes. The larger version of this piece is a geometrical rainbow of shelter. It is pleasing to the eye.


Using proximity Ash forces the viewer to scrutinise his works (collages) to ask question of its creation and motive.

An informal radio show provides and space for Ash to talk about the aspects of art that interest him and to have an interesting conversation. Resonance FM studio 1.  Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau in Hanover. Although good luck finding it because I couldn’t.

thankyou. for more work by Jesse Ash click HERE