press release origins of distance

Peter Macapia | Origins of Distance

Sebastian + Barquet

DATE: 08 September – 22 October 2011

TIME: Opening 6 – 8 PM

LOCATION: 544 W 24th St New York, NY 10011 (Gallery location)


Peter Macapia


September 8th, 2011 – October 22nd, 2011

“From whatever side one approaches things, the ultimate problem turns out, in the final analysis, to be that of distinction:  distinctions between the real and the imaginary, between waking and sleeping, between ignorance and knowledge, etc. . . . Among distinctions, there is assuredly none more clear-cut than that between the organism and its surroundings.”

Roger Caillois, Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia

Sebastian + Barquet presents Origins of Distance, a solo exhibition of Peter Macapia’s recent work on the aesthetics of separation.  “I don’t like objects per se,” according to Macapia, “but they are as necessary as language, and, in fact, they are part of it. And everything we experience as an object, just as much as everything we experience as space and people in the city, somehow splits us from one state, and pulls us to another.  I am interested in that distance between the two.”  On this premise Macapia introduces an exhibition in two parts between September and October.

During September, the exhibition focuses on a series of sculptures, drawings, and installations which presents objects as both unified and internally coherent and yet simultaneously refracted through the environment.  The fugitive space between the two conditions starts to become more palpable as the viewer’s experience becomes more and more intrinsic to their connection.  The spatial logic of these situations reaches beyond intuited phenomenological relationships imply economic, social, and psychological questions. The steel sculptures, part of a series titled “Empire of Separation,” pull the environment of the “showroom/gallery” into a unified sense of object singled out for perception, but just as immediately disperse that relation back into the space through a disorienting series of reflections.  The currency drawings similarly pull the viewer into a pictorial space that is at once familiar and utterly strange by emphasizing the physical nature of the drawing and ephemeral condition of “value.”  These duplicities are often evoked through Rorschach patterns, which are at once entirely figurative and abstract, totally controlled and absolutely random, essentially personal and yet institutionally mediated.  Larger versions of these sculptures, “Random Hours” will also be on view in various sites around Redhook, where the installations present themselves as unobtrusive and abandoned appearing only momentarily depending on environmental conditions of light and wind.  Other pieces include a sound installation titled “I’ve Heard of Precision,” and a documentary on the experience of the space of the city and its social dimensions with Vito Acconci and Ivan Argote titled “Pastoral Lot.”

During October, Macapia focuses on distance as a much more intimate phenomenon, as an effect of multiplicity, pattern, and dispersal, by introducing objects and installations that depend for their identity on a kind of fluctuating cellular or atomistic turbulence, emphasizing as it were, an organism’s existence through constant self-division.  “Crystal Bark,” an algorithmically generated sculpture, along with “Liquid Architectures,” and “Capillary” call to mind experiments in physics and biology where the goal is often to secure the nature of a thing’s “identity,” by creating a legible pattern of its transitory states.  Similar explorations are documented in Macapia’s recent Paris installations, “Notice of Appearance,” where he anonymously blanketed large intersections with blank paper using environmental pressures of automobile traffic and wind, as well as video pieces such as “Merci, Merci Beaucoup,” where he sought the assistance of strangers to help him collect paper “accidentally” scattered in the midst of busy crosswalks.

Trained as an artist and architect, Macapia is conscientious of the fact that objects do appear and matter in our environment, and that, as he puts it, “at the end of it all, the object might not matter as such.  It might just be an opening for an interesting conversation, which may lead us to a more interesting set of  interactions or understanding of the environment.”  Which may also be considered an aesthetic of separation and participation.

Macapia earned his BFA from RISD and his PhD from Columbia.  He has exhibited and lectured internationally and was recently commissioned by Dior for a travelling exhibition in Asia and Europe and Audi for an exhibition on the future city in New York.  Past exhibitions include Maison Rouge Paris, Angstrom Gallery Los Angeles, Bridge Gallery, Johnson Trading Gallery, and Sebastian + Barquet in New York, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Beijing Biennial of Architecture, and Design Miami/Basel.  Macapia recently completed an artist in residency at l’entreprise culturelle in Paris and is currently working on a book about architecture and geometry titled the New Labyrinth: For and Against Reason.

For more information or images contact Abbey Golden at

Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10-6 PM.