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ENGAGE Projects share details about a new exhibition from Chris Larson, The Residue Of Labor, on The Table Read, “The Best entertainment magazine in the UK“.

Chris Larson
The Residue of Labor
April 8 – May 21, 2022
Presented by ENGAGE Projects

Opening Reception:
Friday, April 8, 2022, 6-8 PM
401 North Paulina Street, Chicago

“The residue of labor, which usually remains unseen, is a summation of minute tasks of everyday repetition that are required for production and equate to the steady degradation of once enduring objects, equipment, architecture, and communities.” —Chris Larson

The Residue Of Labor

ENGAGE Projects is pleased to announce The Residue of Labor, a site-specific exhibition by St. Paul-based multimedia artist Chris Larson. The exhibition will be presented across two locations:  Larson will debut a primary, large-scale installation at an offsite warehouse in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood (401 N Paulina St), in addition to a small presentation of works at ENGAGE Projects (864 N Ashland Ave).

At the offsite location — a 10,000 square-foot warehouse in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood — Larson’s large-scale, site specific installation will include 55 recent works ranging from sculpture, video, drawing, painting, and photography, as well as an immersive work titled Thread Room. The Residue of Labor will be on view from April 8 through May 21, 2022, and will open with a public reception for the artist on Friday, April 8, 2022, from 6-8 PM, at the exhibition’s offsite venue (401 N Paulina St).

Arts In Chicago - Chris Larson at ENGAGE Projects on The Table Read

Larson’s ongoing work, The Residue of Labor, first began in 2018. Funded by the Guggenheim Artist Fellowship, The Residue of Labor is a culmination of Larson’s longtime engagement with a defunct American garment factory in rural Tennessee that once produced clothing for brands such as Ralph Lauren, Burberry, and others. Utilizing the bygone factory as a point of departure, Larson creates an intimate yet immersive body of work from the forgotten materials and disused spaces within the factory, imbuing each with new life and meaning.

Thread Works

Among the works on view in the exhibition are examples from Larson’s Thread Works series. To create the Thread Works, Larson built a foot treadle-operated machine which wrapped canvases vertically in thread with both technological precision and the randomness of a human-generated frequency simulating the physicality of the foot peddle of a sewing machine.  Although created by machine, Larson asserts his hand in each work, challenging the processes and mechanisms of mass production. 

Using discarded employee time cards and thread recovered from the abandoned garment factory, Larson’s Timecard series (2021) conveys the residue of labor by creating depth through layers of erasure.

Arts In Chicago - Chris Larson at ENGAGE Projects on The Table Read

These works bear the weight of exertion in their charged materiality and fatigued treatment. Larson uses rotary tools to emulate the effacing of history by removing material on the surface of each piece, common throughout Larson’s practice. 

The Stillness Of Labor

In this exhibition, Larson also presents the video work, The Stillness of Labor (2022). In the film, Larson’s perspectival disorientation animates the banality of the labor that once took place within the factory. Recreating 12 full-scale rooms from the original garment factory, Larson emulates the utilitarian workspace while gesturing to the absence of the human body that was once integral to the space. 

Thread Room

The largest work in the exhibition, Thread Room (2022) invites viewers to walk amidst thousands of shelved spools of thread. Arranged by color to create the impression of light filtering into a room, the installation functions as a library of labor that archives the great number of jobs unceremoniously taken from rural communities when garment labor became predominantly outsourced in the late 90s. The shallow shelving in Larson’s design calls upon the factory’s low basement ceilings, and the stacked spools offer a visual representation of workers operating within cramped quarters, creating an immersive experience for viewers.

Arts In Chicago - Chris Larson at ENGAGE Projects on The Table Read

Invested in the relationships between individual and architecture, body and machine, Larson contemplates the history of the American garment industry and human labor that has steadily faded from many rural communities.

“The objects found in the factory magnify the complex relationships between intensive labor, working conditions, purpose and meaning, and what happens when these things disappear,” Larson states. “[The residue of this space] aids in the investigation of class and identity, transcending their material function and pointing us toward answers of possibility.”

About Chris Larson

Chris Larson (b. 1966) lives and works in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Minnesota. Since receiving his MFA in sculpture from Yale University in 1991, Larson has received numerous awards including a New Work Project Grant from The Harpo Foundation, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, and most recently, in 2018, a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Arts In Chicago - Chris Larson at ENGAGE Projects on The Table Read
Chris Larson

With his Chicago iteration of The Residue of Labor, Larson builds upon his oeuvre of contemporary installation, including solo exhibitions at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN, Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, NY, The View Contemporary Art Space in Switzerland, and his work was included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. In 2018, Larson’s work was included in the 11th Bienal do Mercosul in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and a solo 10-year survey exhibition at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati.

In 2019, he co-founded Second Shift Studio Space of St. Paul, a nonprofit residency program and gallery serving women and gender-nonconforming artists/makers/thinkers.

About ENGAGE Projects

ENGAGE Projects was founded as Aspect/Ratio Projects in 2012 as a commercial gallery for international emerging video artists. Now representing both mid-career and emerging interdisciplinary conceptual artists, ENGAGE Projects represents the careers of Aaron Spangler, Adam Daley Wilson, Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera, Andrew Bearnot, Cameron Gainer, Casilda Sanchez, Chris Cosnowski, Chris Larson, Derrick Woods-Morrow, Edra Soto, Einat Amir, Guy Ben-Ner, Xie Hongdong, Iris Bernblum, Jean Alexander Frater, Jovan Speller, Nick Albertson, Orr Menirom, Raheleh Filsoofi, Rob Fischer, and Sharon Louden. 

The gallery’s artists have been exhibited at institutions, including The Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Tate Modern, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The New Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago, Sculpture Center, and La Panera Art Center, among others. 

Exhibition Locations:

ENGAGE Projects @ 864 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Off site warehouse @ 401 N Paulina St, Chicago, IL 60622

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