Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Steven Seidenberg – Lares and Penates

Steven Seidenberg
Lares and Penates: The Household Gods of East Berlin

September 1-30, 2013
Opening reception: Wednesday, September 11, 6-10 pm

Right Window is pleased to present Lares and Penates: The Household Gods of East Berlin by the San Francisco artist Steven Seidenberg. Right Window’s exhibitions are visible from the street; the gallery is open on Saturdays from 12-4 and by appointment.

Devised to allow the easy clearing of debris from roof and balcony drainage pipes, the cast-iron fittings imaged in this exhibition have largely disappeared—replaced by plastic and aluminum plates throughout the East Berlin neighborhoods where they were once prevalent. Each totemic grimace of these decaying visages intimates the history—and character of the Soviet era apartment blocks to which they are attached, both in growing state of disrepair and character of ornament unwittingly or illegally affixed. Some glare in eager anger at apathetic passersby, while others seem to hibernate in droll anticipation of an end that can’t come soon enough, but all declare a transit into utter dissolution otherwise unheralded by the denizens they’ve spent the last half century surveying. I seek in turn to witness and portend as witness the stages on the path towards the event horizon of complete elision, a performative decadence that transforms the commonplace of objects in abeyance into testament and sculptural abstraction.

In Roman religious practice, Lares and Penates were the deities of the household and domestic life. Lares were ancestral spirits to which everyday prayers and offerings were made, kept in the family shrine. Every family had its own Lar familiaris, beseeched to ensure familial health and longevity. Penates were the spirits of the pantry, taken out during meal times to preserve the family wealth and keep its members fed.

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