With Ryan Foerster the stream of consciousness turns solid

Stefano Pirovano

Rayan Foerster solo exhibition at C L E A R I N G in New York spans over 10 years of the artist’s production

Over a year ago, on the occasion of a show at Galerie Bugada Cargnel, we stressed the importance of information in Ryan Foerster’s artistic practice or, in other words, the facts linked to the making process of his photographic images. It was a particular and widely known event – the hurricane Sandy – that, with its natural intervention on the artist’s photosensitive paper, gave shape to the identity of his work. For the artist’s last show at C L E A R I N G New York, we would like to extend this interpretation on to a broader landscape.

Spanning over ten years of Ryan Foerster’s production, this exhibition feels very much like a mini retrospective with all the artist’s most popular series and themes there to be seen: C-prints, found objects and found materials assembled and re-worked in different compositions, intimate shots of the artist’s life, printing plates, newsprint, dead plants, debris, and more.

Starting from our reflection on information and seeking the one related to C L E A R I N G show, we looked at what the press release had to say about the artworks and found that, perhaps due to the larger selection of the pieces compared to the show in Paris, no factual information was there to be found. Instead, a stream of consciousness written by the artist replaced the usual text of a press release.

Since the first time of its theorization in the late 19th century, the technique of the stream of consciousness has been used by many writers to put solipsistic dialogues with themselves into words. Contrary to dramatic monologues that have a specific role in addressing an audience, streams of consciousness represent an inner reflexion as overheard in the mind, or declared to oneself, where no direct role in a plot or poetical communication is to be easily pinned down.

So what is the implication of using a stream of consciousness in a communication interface such as a press release? Its supposed purpose is that of informing a more or less specific public after all. Not indulging in a consideration on sophisticated marketing techniques that use experimental text with awareness in order to enhance promotion, we would like to focus on the specific case of Ryan Foerster, whose art has already been compared to a material stream of consciousness and whose recent press release seems to support this interpretation.

From the same critical standpoint, in both his material production and his press release, the solipsistic monologue seems to be consciously directed to a specific audience, which consists of an established art world. If there is such a thing as the ‘selfie’ practice, or the aware act of sharing our image on social networks (whether real or virtual), Ryan Foerster’s art and press release strongly feel like an information-free picture of himself, constructed for the way of the art world and its protocols in order to meet a urgent need of inclusion.

January 12, 2023