Jac Leirner, Us Horizon

Jac Leirner, Us Horizon

March 12 – April 14, 2022
  • Jac Leirner, Us Horizon

    Esther Schipper is pleased to present Us Horizon, Jac Leirner’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Us Horizon includes a new work from Leirner’s acclaimed series constructed from ensembles of plastic shopping bags, and a new installation made of found numbered markers.
    Jac Leirner, who joined the gallery in 2019, is best known for her series of works employing specific everyday materials, such as bank notes, cigarette packaging, airline paraphernalia, business cards, and more recently items purchased in hardware stores. Her conceptually rigorous and formally beautiful works draw on a wide array of art historical and formal influences, as well as embracing the transgressive legacies of Dada, Constructivism, Pop and Conceptual Art, Arte Povera, and Punk, among others.

  • Exhibition view: Jac Leirner, Us Horizon, Esther Schipper, Berlin (2022)

  • Jac Leirner

    Us Horizon, 1985-2022



    The exhibition’s central large-scale work, Us Horizon, consists of over 200 vintage shopping bags installed in a double row at eye-level across three walls in the main gallery space. Leirner began collecting the material for this body of work in 1985 and first presented collections of plastic shopping bags at the 1989 São Paulo Biennial and the following year at the 44. Biennale di Venezia. Initially exhibited as vast quilted surfaces covering walls and at times also the floor, or as sculptures made from smaller groups sewn-together, later configurations were exhibited as large orderly grids, most recently at the Museum Ludwig, on the occasion of the artist’s receiving the 2019 Wolfgang Hahn Award. The double line of bags seen in Us Horizon constitutes a new and final format of this body of work. Assembled from individual shopping bags that date from the 1980s to today, Us Horizon’s linear sequence is organized according to their formal properties such as shape, color, and fonts.

  • Detail: Us Horizon, 1985-2022, 220 plastic bags (106 top row, 114 bottom row), 2,10 x 46,5 m (6,9 x 152,6 ft) (variable) (JL 066)

  • While the artist has consistently downplayed any autobiographical interpretations, references can of course be found: the bags range from the 1980s to today and attest to Leirner's love of books and of music, refer to exhibitions she participated in or visited, to museums in which she exhibited, or which hold her works in their collections. Other bags in the vast collection were given to her by friends.

    Both the new linear presentation and the sources of the bags reinforce the work's relationship to language—a frequent reference for Leirner—as does the visitors' sequential experience. The simultaneity of seeing and reading is made possible by a perfect equilibrium between singularity and seriality, that is, between each individual bag and the entire group: every item appears to have equal value, even as it constitutes an integral component in the sequence.

  • Jac Leirner

    Prisms, 2022



    Prisms is composed of numbered geometric small pouches made from multicolored sewn synthetic fabric. The objects are commonly used by São Paolo's valet parking attendants to identify the cars in their custody with these colorful magnetic numbers. At Esther Schipper, Prisms is installed on a 10 meters long shelf-like structure, constructed from five metal beams set in a line across the room. Never before exhibited, the new collection creates a jumble of numbers, recalling Leirner's often professed love of mathematics and obvious penchant for creating systems.

    As the use of the pouches is diminishing, they also constitute a certain obsolescence. In this, the pouches share qualities found in many of the items from which Leirner has created art works. To Leirner, objects are always more than their immediate appearance. They are part of a larger circulation of things, purposes, and meanings.

  • Prisms, 2022, 64 pouches (vinyl, magnets, styrofoam), 5 I-beams (IPE 300), dimensions variable (10 m long approx.), beams: 30 x 15 x 200 cm (11 3/4 x 5 7/8 x 78 3/4 in) each (5 parts) (JL 072)
    Prisms, 2022, 64 pouches (vinyl, magnets, styrofoam), 5 I-beams (IPE 300), dimensions variable (10 m long approx.), beams: 30 x 15 x 200 cm (11 3/4 x 5 7/8 x 78 3/4 in) each (5 parts) (JL 072)
  • Detail: Prisms, 2022, 64 pouches (vinyl, magnets, styrofoam), 5 I-beams (IPE 300), dimensions variable (10 m long approx.), beams: 30 x 15 x 200 cm (11 3/4 x 5 7/8 x 78 3/4 in) each (5 parts) (JL 072)

  • Jac Leirner

    Expressive Line, 2020



    Suspended on a steel cord, a multitude of miniature tires made from rubber or plastic, originally from her son’s and his friends' toys, is organized by size.  With its progressive sequences sorted by diminishing circumference, Expressive Line, 2020, creates an elegant yet enigmatic ensemble of objects.

    Leirner finds beauty in everyday objects, which she subjects to a formal rigorous aesthetic. At the same time, her materials often have a personal resonance, that remains largely unspoken: in this case the small tires from childhood toys of her now-grown son.

  • Detail: Expressive Line, 2020, stainless steel cord, tensioners, hooks, tire and wheel parts from toy cars,   5 cm, length variable (JL 073)

  • Jac Leirner

    My Unstable Way, 2022



    My Unstable Way consists of a multitude of pens, organized by color and suspended on a steel cord that reaches across the room. With its large variety of pens, some with brand names and logos, the work draws on Leirner’s history of using found and absconded items as a medium.

    As the artist noted in 2011:

    “In silent ways materials tell their stories. They reverberate processes in different stages. They belong to networks and systems where they assume new positions, including, finally, that of an artwork placed in a museum. In the end, what I do in all the works is to create a place for things that don’t have one…“

  • My Unstable Way, 2022, stainless steel cord, tensioners, hooks, ballpoint pen parts, 1 cm, length variable (JL 074)

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