Exhibition Dates: July 20, 2018-September 9, 2018
Opening Reception: Thursday, August 9, 2018, 6-9PM
Opening July 20, 2018, Tiger Strikes Asteroid Philadelphia is pleased to present “Matt Neff & Alisha Wessler: Legerdemain” an exhibition featuring new and recent works by the two artists. Both artists explore the found object in their work: the collecting, handling, and transformation of discarded or overlooked things by way of an intuitive, human-centered hand. On view through September 1 and organized by Kayla Romberger, the exhibition traces the intersections and divergences of these artists’ autonomous practices through shared themes of labor and precarity; abstraction and figuration; personal narrative and myth.
The title “legerdemain” refers to the “skillful use of one’s hands when performing conjuring tricks.” Each artist destabilizes the familiar through careful acts of staging or embellishment. Matt Neff’s sculptures strip everyday objects down to their most fundamental essence. Alisha Wessler imbues found and natural materials with layers of labor and narrative potential, leaving room for uncertain taxonomic and folkloric interpretations. Neff’s work is never stable; he recycles and re-incorporates parts of old sculptures into new works, sometimes over periods of years. Wessler describes her methodology as “alchemic”; Neff, an exercise in “working in real time.” Both artists are interested in obfuscation and in the representation of the invisible. The objects are “are no longer exactly what they are.”
How do we broach the foreign or unfamiliar, a concern now more politically contentious than ever? Matt Neff and Alisha Wessler address uncomfortable territory by taking the strange and making it familiar, or rather, by taking the familiar and making it “familiarly strange”—Freud’s idea of the uncanny—and making it legible again. They seem to tell us that we should not be afraid. Their work beseeches us to address it, to tell its story. Sit down, sit here, it says. All are welcome.
About Matt Neff
An artist, printer, and educator living in Philadelphia, Matt Neff is the Director of Undergraduate Programs in Fine Arts and the Common Press at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, a BFA in Studio Art and a BA in Art History from Indiana University. His work is concerned with historical and current negotiations of power and privilege. Neff has worked on a number of projects with institutions including Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, The Drawing Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Wharton Esherick Museum. His work is included in public and private collections including the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Pennsylvania.
About Alisha Wessler
Alisha Wessler is a NYC-based visual artist whose work explores the narrative potential of hybrid objects. She holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she received a Certificate in Museum Studies and was the recipient of several grants and fellowships. Wessler has been an artist in residence at MeetFactory (Prague, CZ), Wave Hill (Bronx, NY), the NARS Foundation (Brooklyn, NY), Guttenberg Arts (Guttenberg, NJ), Residency Unlimited (Brooklyn, NY), and the Bronx Museum’s Artist in the Marketplace program. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, including projects at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology (Ann Arbor, MI), Smack Mellon (Brooklyn, NY), Castle Williams on Governors Island (NYC), and the 2017 AIM Biennial at the Bronx Museum of the Arts.