Last Chance to Catch Math Bass at MoMA PS1 This Weekend

See what the buzz is about before the show is over.

Mathieu Mercier, Drum and Bass 182 (2002-2013), Photo: © David Ulrichs
Mathieu Mercier, Drum and Bass 182 (2002-2013), Photo: © David Ulrichs
Installation view "Math Bass: Off the Clock" at MoMA PS1<br />Photo Pablo Enriquez, courtesy of MoMA PS1.

Installation view, “Math Bass: Off the Clock” at MoMA PS1.
Photo Pablo Enriquez, courtesy of MoMA PS1.

This weekend is the last chance to catch “Math Bass: Off the Clock,” a small but much-buzzed-about show of the Los Angeles-based artist’s work at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens.

Much of the fascination with Bass’ work lies in the playful ambiguity of her colorful yet sparse sculptural installations and symbol-laden paintings. Ladders are placed on the floor, upside-down casts of the inside of pants form sculptural V’s, and geometric cutouts made in the galleries’ walls—in collaboration with artist Lauren Davis Fisher—allow for peeking into adjoining rooms though bare wooden beams.

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Installation view, “Math Bass: Off the Clock” at MoMA PS1.
Photo Pablo Enriquez, courtesy of MoMA PS1.

“There is something about them that feels very ‘now,'” curator Mia Locks, who spearheaded the show, told artnet News in a phone interview. “I’ve heard that both as a criticism and as a positive.”

While there is definitely interest in “a certain kind of abstraction right now,” says Locks, “what I think is interesting about Math’s works is that unlike a sort of reductionist or a minimal approach, it begins with that language, but she’s been building and adding to this visual vocabulary in a way that has a kind of play.”

Even the artist’s name is a source of intrigue. In the September issue of Frieze, the cover of which features a painting by Bass, writer Dan Fox seems to have a great time trying to decipher the “puns, pictographs, and props” in the show,  noting that “even the artist’s name suggests other things: a branch of science, an audio frequency or a new genre of music.”

Math Bass: Off the Clock - Photos by Pablo Enriquez 2015

Installation view of “Math Bass: Off the Clock” at MoMA PS1.
Photo Pablo Enriquez, courtesy of MoMA PS1.

Locks, who spent roughly half a dozen years in Los Angeles, including a stint at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), had long been familiar with Bass’ work, especially her early performances and videos. A more recent video, Drummer Boi (2015), is included in the MoMA PS1 show.

“I remember seeing the paintings and being really surprised in a way, like, ‘Those are Math Bass paintings?’, because there is something really clean and tight about them,” says Locks. “They’re almost like an Ellsworth Kelly kind of look. I was surprised because the performances, at least the earlier ones, lean towards the improvisational and are more casual.”

MathBass9

Installation view, “Math Bass: Off the Clock” at MoMA PS1.
Photo Pablo Enriquez, courtesy of MoMA PS1.

Locks was also surprised at the the lack of awareness of Bass’ work on the East Coast.

“I had seen a momentum growing in L.A.,” she said, including a well-received 2014 show at Overduin & Company titled “Lies Inside.”

“I was really intrigued by it and then struck by how relatively unknown her work was on the other side of the country,” she said.

That has certainly changed now, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to get wise to Bass’ work.

“Math Bass: Off the Clock” continues through September 7 at MoMA PS1.

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