Like all printed matter, zines have a physical life span. Even when shelved by the most caring of reader, they naturally decay and die. This fragility gives them their voodoo, their authority to communicate in very intimate and immediate terms, full of emotion.
The entirety of the works featured in Slabs are literary constructs. Hand built dub versions of mass-distributed photocopied ephemera — of excerpted pages from the zines Born to Kill and Skirts, flyers, tattoo flashes, pin-ups — recontextualized as heirloom objects in slab form. That is, presented not on paper but on “hard rectangular surfaces” of varied and opposing materials and mediums. The pieces in Slabs are realized using universal technologies and very elemental materials — porcelain, cotton, steel, film photography, flesh. These works are created primarily on either white ceramic porcelain or black denim, maintaining the monochromatic visual aesthetics of the zine pages from which they are dubbed.
Approximately 20 pieces will be presented at agnès b. galerie, ranging from 8.5in x 11in to 17in x 23in. They are hung across 2 walls, in a classic clusterfuck salon style. But this is not a crowded “survey” of recent work. This is a temporal sculpture of a single book. Written on the wall on the occasion of this exhibit.
The Porcelain Slabs are created by transferring a photocopy, using iron-rich toner, directly onto wet porcelain slabs. When kiln-fired, the black carbon burns away and the sepia-colored iron burns into the ceramic body, embedded permanently. Porcelain is an ancient technology, a material that retains its composition for thousands of years. Selecting zine pages to elevate as Hall-of-Famers, to canonize on stone, takes much consideration, as these slabs will outlive me 10-fold. Yet all it takes for this eternal marriage is the photocopier and the application of fire.
Black denim and bleach are two materials that I keep in abundance on the roof for tending to the pigeons and the coops. The “paintings” I create with them are a sort of photographic negative of both the paper and ceramic zines. It is the opposite craft of ritualized “edit and revision”. Here the first draft is eternal. Every gesture, every move, mark, and mistake, is exposed. Like a tattoo onto skin, all is a one-liner. And like flesh, these paintings will deteriorate. Wood and denim will warp and ultimately rot. Similarly, painting with bleach begets a personal consideration of mortality, the fumes stinging my lungs each time the brush is dipped.
In my zines there’s constant emphasis on place — place in very direct terms — an acknowledgment of what is under one’s feet at all moments; either it’s the street (Cheesebike), or the sky (Pigeoning), or the sea, or in bed (Skirts). When you’re hyper-focused on that, on your feet and on the slabs beneath your feet, everywhere becomes an experiment, a sculptural stage, or a poem. Pat McCarthy, March 22, 2015, Brooklyn