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Lawrence F Mesich
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Bushwick

ARTIST STATEMENT: Lawrence Mesich's media work explores moments when bodies and buildings intersect, and their political and social effects. He uses corporate aesthetics and dry wit to frame these subjects as both singular entities and containers for complex systems.
His recent work focuses on the image and infrastructure of tall buildings, treating these structures as entities that embody the institutions they’re designed to contain. He manipulates the images of these buildings - bending, twisting, elongating them - to parallel the distortions and shifting narratives that institutions use to construct their identities.
His other work examines minute relationships between people and interiors, and the social and ideological systems they produce together. He draws attention to ‘boring’ subjects - mundane rituals and repetitive gestures, workplace layouts, formulaic furniture - and amplifies their absurdity to explore how large an impact these small and often invisible things can have on everyday experiences.
His projects have examined the anonymizing effects of institutional interiors and self-help texts on workplace interactions, explored the expectations and behavioral mandates of soap opera and film noir conventions, and posited an infinite skyscraper as a symbol of complex financial systems run amok.

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Risk is a body of work that uses two moments of crisis for Citigroup - the engineering crisis at Citicorp Center in 1979 and the financial crisis of 2007 - as a platform for exploring the public and private representations of a company’s business and practices, the pervasive fallacy of perpetually positive financial returns, and the scale of influence that banks’ behaviors and philosophies occupy in our individual and collective lives using the images of two of the banks iconic buildings as a vehicle. Distributed Risk is a sculptural video piece that transforms the facade of One Court Square into an ever-growing, unending building displayed across four concurrent video monitors and supported by a steel lattice structure that invokes the buildings structural skeleton and cantilevers the monitors at 5º.

This project is made possible in part by Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

A Building Explains Itself is a single channel video that visualizes the possible routes to a building's exit from the imagined perspective of the building itself. Using fire exit diagrams as visual reference and Luciano Berio's Linea (as performed by Queens-based ensemble Yarn|Wire) as both score and structural inspiration, the video follows a figure that diverges and multiplies at each opportune path and trails a red line that marks its various trajectories. Much like the score, the figure begins as a single coherent body that continues to divide and recombine along concurrent paths until it reaches its destination. The piece is a visual rumination on the limitations and inadequacies of design. The imagined perspective of the building is not anthropomorphic, but rather a fragmented collection of passageways and portals, shown in a series of static, surveillance-like images, that bear the marks of multiple, competing visions: architect, client, engineer, inhabitant. Irregular stairwells, fantastical details, monotonous hallways, obfuscated views, and odd repetitions abound, all of which combine to make the space appear hermetically sealed off from the environment outside. The buildings details – from the exaggerated doors and glass walls to the exit plans and wall text – are clean and efficient, nearly sterile. The figure is an extension and embodiment of this design: it functions like a maquette, its demeanor stolid and its movements programmatic. Ultimately, the limit of the figure’s path conforms to the scope of the building’s design.

This piece was funded in part by The Queens Council on the Arts regrant program.

nherent and Residual Risk is a two-channel video work that tells the stories of two moments of crisis for Citigroup - the engineering crisis at Citicorp tower in 1979 and the financial crisis of 2007 - using the images of two of the banks iconic buildings. A voiceover narrates these two crises in parallel, compressing them into a single space and throwing the moments of synergy and difference into stark relief. The video is comprised of a street level image of each building which is manipulated by an outsized hand, and both image and narrative lose stability. Who is acting upon the buildings, and for what purpose, is and open and unanswered question. The images of these buildings, and their attending narratives, become both the malleable material of public relations and iconic structural marvels, incredibly sturdy and impossibly flimsy at the same time.

This documentation depicts the full piece twice: Physical setup: 32" monitors in wooden enclosures, each 78"H x 22.5"W x 12"D and spaced 42" apart. Projection setup: 10' x 5.75' projection area (each) spaced 60" apart.

Aphorisms is a single- or two-channel video piece comprised of a series of short vignettes. Set in familiar work environments, each vignette examines the interactions of two identical figures. These brief exchanges describe a range of attitudes - from camaraderie to cruelty to confusion and back - while a voice recites a series of aphoristic sayings. The on-screen action and monotone narration offer a wry reflection on commuttal behavior and communication. The narration, repurposed from work-oriented self help books, reflects and subsequently perverts the aspiration for an idealized self, while the near-slapstick action of the figures is grounded in the messiness of everyday behavior - selfish impulses, clashing intent, and sexual innuendo. The two elements amplify each’s absurdity, resulting in a disturbingly familiar depiction of life at work.

At Work is a five channel video installation that investigates the relationship between the interstitial spaces of institutional interiors – lobbies, waiting areas, hallways – and the routines of the people employed to inhabit them. The piece consists of video monitors mounted in enclosures that mimic the infrastructure of spaces they inhabit. The spaces depicted in the videos are at once foreign and familiar, reminding us of many different spaces while remaining essentially unplaceable. The behaviors depicted, the repetitive and unconscious actions that occur in the ‘down time’ of a work day, are similarly familiar and alienating. The repetition of these familiar architectural tropes and physical gestures creates a zone of liminal discomfort; the normally ignorable or invisible spaces and gestures are given explicit focus. Simultaneously, the monitor enclosures reemphasize the invisibleness and mundanity of those spaces and gestures. This tension implicates the viewer, asking them to reevaluate the spaces they inhabit and the behaviors those spaces help engender.


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