Still House: Prefabricated and Reappropriated

Walking around the drawing room of a Washington Square town house with Isaac Brest, it is difficult not to smile and nod at everything he says. The artist, along with fellow Still House Group members Louis Eisner and Alex Perweiler, is giving Interview a private tour of their new group show, “Here Comes” at Mark Fletcher.

Brest has a thoughtful and articulate explanation for every piece—and it seems so easy.

He points to a small, early ’80s-looking television playing a point-of-view film taken by a man (Brest himself) hanging off the side of a building, Sweaty Palms. The camera wavers up across the horizon (pretty!) and down past some dangling feet towards the pavement, top-of-a-rollercoaster-style. “This is at our studio, around 50 feet up; there’s an old steel pillar with a sort of a loop on it that they used to hoist things up with,” he explains. Was he frightened? “My heart was definitely pumping a little bit, but it was actually surprisingly calming. It was early in the morning.”

But perhaps it shouldn’t be so easy. “We don’t want to provide people with a simple answer. We worked so hard; the viewer should have to work as well,” Eisner explains of the group’s decision not to include naming plaques beside each piece.

The Still House Group, housed in a pre-electricity Red Hook building, consists of eight permanent members and, for the past year, one rotating “artist in residence.” “The goal is to really bring fresh blood into the system and kind of allow the artists to feed off of that and vice-versa…” says Brest of their residency program. “We really want a symbiotic relationship to happen and it has been very successful for us.”

Representing the residency program in this exhibition is Alex da Corte, who worked with the group earlier in the year. Da Corte‘s contribution is Loveless, a still-pungent abstract painting on a mirror, created entirely from different dollar-store shampoos in lurid, Barbie colors.

The focus of the show is on pre-fabricated material, be it as a medium (Nick Darmstaedter’s Cock and Endless Balls, a print on canvas made from oxidizing copper pennies, and Alex Perweiler’s interacting unfixed c-prints, Chameleon); a raw material (as with Dylan Lynch’s carefully balanced folding chair and Zachary Susskind’s hose-pipe sculpture); or a venerated subject (Eisner’s buttercup-yellow, shining slide, an oil on canvas painting).

“Most shows start off with: ‘Is there any idea that you’re not currently making in your studio that you really want to make for this show,’ because obviously an exhibition is an opportunity to really go all in,” says Brest. The title, “Here Comes,” is “a dry play on a standard, static announcement that doesn’t really give you any details, doesn’t really bring your expectations anywhere.” Here comes Johnny Carson, here’s Johnny, here comes… what? “We try and inject a little bit of dry humor into our titles to not make this as serious as most people make it,” finishes Brest.