Alex Ito
Half Life

November 13 - January 10, 2020/21
Opening Reception November 13, 2-9pm

September 24, 2020

At the moment, there are no profound stanzas I can write about this exhibition—not when fascism is knocking at our door. This conflict has never been dormant but has operated clandestinely through systems, language and administered by the media and algorithms acting as a smokescreen. Now, the right-wing dog whistle has been blown and many have answered the call. It is not the time for abstractions or obscurities. Bodies are at stake. Reality has come to collect.

In the past, I’ve written some kind of poem to introduce a standard press release. In the abstract, we can capture an affect that is fervidly fleeting yet resonates distinctively from theoretical knowledge. In an artwork, the reality lies in the falsity of the real. We encrypt research, self-affirmed truths or delusions in the images and objects of our making. Though liberatory in some ways, when does such self-circulating subjectivity create a vacuum? When does the domination of aesthetics, obscurity and selfhood mute the magnitude of an urgent collective reality? If poesis becomes an echo chamber, what is lost?

It is important to remember that life in the abstract is susceptible to the perils of ambiguity. In this ambiguity resides the dispossessed and expendable—a coerced formlessness that services the mechanisms of erasure and war. Authoritarianism has adopted abstraction and irony for its own means. Maybe what is left is to disambiguate modalities of violence and to recognize, rather than obscure, the various frames of life.

Interstate Projects is pleased to present Half Life, a solo exhibition by Alex Ito. The exhibition addresses the social and environmental implications of waste and how it composes the policy and (non) recognition of human life.

The ground level gallery presents a sculptural assemblage atop a steel containment vessel composed of historical and found objects (components of a 1873 Winchester rifle, nicknamed ‘the gun that won the West’), personal ephemera, animal carcasses, and expressions of collapsing futurisms. Ito’s arrangement constellates a vernacular for industrial Americana; one premised on utopian fictions of progress, cowboy expansion and ultimately, cultural amnesia.

The basement level features Ito’s recent film, Half Life (2017-2020), a cinematic meditation on the entanglements between the carceral state and nuclear waste practices in the American Southwest. Begun in 2017, Ito’s footage and animations transport the viewer from the sites of Japanese Internment camps where his grandparents were detained; the Trinity Site in White Plains, disorienting desert nightscapes, and a modest family residency hosting non-simian guests. By intertwining documentary with science-fiction narrative, Ito lyrically renders the disposable frameworks of life as it is reduced and reconfigured into agents of waste, capital and fear.

Alex Ito (b. 1991, Los Angeles) is an artist and curator based in New York. Ito has exhibited in various national and international galleries and institutions. He is the director of Chen’s, a Brooklyn-based gallery co-run with Howie Chen. His written works have been published in Silica Mag and Affidavit.

COVID-19: There will be a Soft Opening Reception from 2-9pm on November 13th and the gallery will be open from 12-6pm Saturdays, Sundays and by appointment throughout the week. Visitors must wear masks in the gallery spaces at all times and there will be masks and sanitizer available onsite. There will a limited number of visitors allowed in the spaces and social distancing of six feet will be required. Our courtyard garden will be open for the duration of the exhibition.