With all the buildings going up on the Lower East Side, it’s not uncommon to come across scraps of metal or other weird objects left behind at construction sites. But picking them up and using them for artistic inspiration? Denise Triezman, a Chilean artist, has been collecting found objects all over the city for the past five years, hoarding many of her treasures in an ever-growing storage facility. Now she brings some of the results to Cuchifritos, Essex Market’s resident gallery run by Artists Alliance Inc.
Her new exhibition, DelanceyLudlowRivingtonNorfolk, opens Friday. In it, readymade works interact with the area around the Essex Street Market, abstractly relating street scraps to the Lower East Side’s past. “I was thinking of the history of the neighborhood as a place for immigrants, and how immigration has this idea of hopefulness of a better life,” Treizman said. “But also what you’re leaving behind and that kind of distress, and a lot of the pieces and gestures involved in it have that emotional tone.”
Each piece combines found objects with some store-bought ones. A bright blue plastic ball, usually used for playtime, is trapped–or perhaps cradled–under a tangle of wires. A mysterious geometrical metal plane is sprinkled with tie-dye pom-poms pushed into holes, a curtain rope hanging off the bottom.
“At first glance it might be cheerful and playful and colorful and ‘oh, how fun,’ and whatever,” Treizman said of her show. “But if you look closely at some of the pieces, there’s some sort of sadness to them too, Which is the other side of that whole process, which relates to the history of this neighborhood.”
Treizman said that when she’s wandering the street, bright materials or strangely shaped metals are often what catch her eye. “A lot of the things I’m interested in are colorful remnants and plastic and scraps,” she said. “Like metal scraps and things that talk about the city and the pace of the city and, you know, how there’s always something destroyed in the city or always something being built.”
Though she does incorporate new items, the direction of her pieces are guided by the objects she finds on the street. “I’m interested in blending these two worlds, so what I find inspires the materials that I use,” she said.
She also likes to recycle her objects from work to work so that they retain the “mark of the artist,” serving as a kind of historical memory of her own process. “I’m hoping that, eventually in the long term, every material starts reappearing in different iterations,” she said, explaining how she looks at each new site-specific exhibit.
Recently, Treizman has experimented with adding her own ceramic pieces to the compositions. In this exhibit they are often thick and twisty, referencing grids from the streetscape. They’re unassuming at first–they almost seem like they could be a found object, until you look closer. “It’s something very shiny, as opposed to this sometimes very light-weighted ephemeral trash,” she said. “The combination of both is a little bit unexpected and brings a new element to a work.”
If you’re drawn to these tactile pieces and feel like you want to touch…well, maybe you should head to Randall’s Island soon to check out Treizman’s upcoming outdoor installation, Spartan Follies, a neon tire-filled obstacle course you can horse around on–or just relax.
DelanceyLudlowRivingtonNorfolk at Cuchifritos Gallery, 120 Essex Street. Opening Reception: Friday, May 6, 6-8pm
On View: May 6 through June 5.