Marissa Lee Benedict, Daniel de Paula and David Rueter; comissioned by The Arts Club of Chicago.

CNCed and laminated baltic birch plywood and insulation foam, pine, steel.

Fabricated by Navillus WoodWorks and supported by a grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art.

At first glance, Repose presents itself as enigmatic: the arranged fragments a custom wooden shipping crate for a large, missing object. The absent object, the peculiar nature of its suspension and rotation, and the sliced openings built to cushion and support a buoyed mass, flip in and out of focus.

The engineered wooden strata of the precisely cut angular packing materials describe dueling geometries. Some of the slices are capable of being drawn by hand; others are only conceivable through digital rendering software. At play are looping continuities between modernist negation and global logistics. Cuts made by Gordon Matta-Clark in 1978 for the MCA Chicago commissioned work Circus or the Caribbean Orange, temporarily installed just a few doors east of the Arts Club on Ontario Street, echo through the garden. The sculptural tradition of the negative object (“not-landscape,” “not-architecture”) here become colonized by histories of logistics, capital and flow that, again, stall out – like “…a kind of black hole in the space of consciousness.” [1]
In 2018, a chance series of communications, buoyed by the generosity of a community of Chicago artists, led artists Daniel de Paula, Marissa Lee Benedict, and David Rueter to salvage and acquire the last remaining commodities futures trading “pit” floor from the Chicago Board of Trade. The 40-foot-diameter, octagonal, seven-tiered corn and soy pits, in operation since the late 19th century, were closed in the mid 2010s as electronic trading made their function obsolete. Sitting, near empty, for years, the pits were disassembled in pieces and removed from the Board of Trade in the late summer of 2018. The corn pit, broken apart into 32 pieces, is now entering a purgatory of circulation and storage – a state maintained by the artists as they wear at the logics and histories sedimented in its bent, geometric, bones.

The abjection of the pit (and the bodies it housed) from the heights of finance suggests a profound break or discontinuity, but it would be more accurate to say that it reflects a steady acceleration and reinforcement of a centuries-old logic of dematerialization through abstraction, commodification, and financialization – an violent logic of bodily and material erasure that the pit itself once facilitated.
Like oddly intersecting angles of rotation, Repose embodies the hallucinatory qualities of knowledge that, anchored in abstractions, govern global logistics and colonial exploration. Repose, at the Arts Club, frames the artwork as evidentiary object, even as it lies in wait for a subject that may never show up.

[1]  Rosalind Krauss. “Sculpture in the Expanded Field.” October, vol. 8, 1979

Repose (screensaver)

Marissa Lee Benedict, Daniel de Paula and David Rueter; comissioned by The Arts Club of Chicago

The Repose screensaver takes as a point of departure data emitted by the container ship Peak Pegusus, as it sat anchored off the coast of China for over a month, waiting for resoluton of a trade war dispute. Slowly drawing circles around the axis of rotation formed by its tether to the seafloor, the screensaver drifts in and out of the ships static, circling path. The screensaver was installed on the work computers of the staff of The Arts Club of Chiago, which were used at home during COVID-19.