Caren Golden Fine Art is pleased to present “Offline & Infamous,” the second solo gallery exhibition by Jonathan Calm. In this exhibition, Calm’s new videos and photographic images offer insights into the implicit beliefs about fate and chance that are a large, but frequently overlooked part of the urban world of the projects — a world in which he was raised. Central to this new body of work is the scratch card, an omnipresent item by which many of the residents of these neighborhoods seek to change their socio-economic circumstances.
Using the documentary style of his earlier video works, which explore the lives of archetypal homeless and drug-addicted people, Calm took his video camera and a stack of scratch cards into the streets. There he asked strangers to let him film their hands scratching the cards, and in return, he or she could keep all of the money won. As each person scratched his or her card, stories, desires, and concerns spontaneously poured forth. The two videos in “Offline & Infamous” capture the real and metaphorical places from which the urge to begin “Scratching Chance” arises. One video consists of a grid of hands scratching different cards as the viewer hears snippets of the participants’ thoughts and comments. Their words convey their optimism, desperation, resignation and religious zeal. A second video evokes a sense of claustrophobia by combining hands scratching cards with images from hallways, stairways and elevators in housing projects. Calm’s “Scratching Chance” photographs are digitally combined images of used scratch cards with the shedding bark of Sycamore trees. These photographs encourage the viewer to look at hope, disappointment, and ultimately the gamble involved in coping with and seeking to change one’s fate.
Jonathan Calm was the 2003 recipient of the MTA Poetry in Motion Award. His work has been warmly reviewed in The New York Times, Time Out New York, Tema Celeste and NY Arts. Calm’s videos have been screened in the Rotterdam Film Festival and in museums throughout the United States including The Museum of Modern Art, The Studio Museum of Harlem and Chelsea Art Museum in New York City, The Cheekwood Museum in Nashville, TN and The Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. They aired on “Reel New York” on the New York Public Broadcasting System in both 2002 and 2004. In September 2005 Jonathan Calm’s video “Delta” will be included in the “We Are the World” exhibition at the Reina Sophia Museum in Madrid, Spain.
“Offline & Infamous” will be on view from May 20th through June 25th, 2005. There will be a reception for the artist on Friday, May 20th from 6 to 8 PM.