“Procession,” Julia Klein’s exhibition at Roman Susan, cannot precisely be called an exhibition. Nor would I agree with the choice to call her time in the space a residency. Rather, I like to think of Julia’s work and time at the space as a study in becoming. Becoming as a verb and a noun, an unending process, is a rapacious state of endurance and emergence; it is a way of being that challenges the confines of linearity in the studio, in the work, and in life. Emergence is a word Klein herself gifted me when speaking together about her time at Roman Susan. In order for emergence—a quality that both subsumes and consumes—to arrive, “Procession” necessitates a space that blurs the boundaries that mark the privacy of the artist’s studio with the public-facing windows of Roman Susan. This friction between public and private, this just out of reach liminality, allows for the question of how space and time impact, change, and relate to art objects. Thus, as Klein’s use of Roman Susan and the work exhibited therein will change and shift throughout her time in the space, what follows is a document of my two experiences with her art and practice.
Upon entering “Procession” for the first time, I was struck by the intimacy of the space. Klein’s sculptural objects, crafted with solidity and weight from found and reused materials, populate the angular chamber. As I stood within the abundance of textures, colors and forms my eye began to gravitate naturally toward certain details; the latticed knots of wire, the pink of a climbing rope, the dimpled weave of cast tape. I listened as Klein explained how a portion of the work contained physical remnants of her contributions to past shows. These pieces in turn find new life in different forms and challenge notions of what it means for a work to be completed, to find its end.
During my second encounter with Klein’s work, I noticed that a miniature neon kettlebell had been moved from the base of an object, acting almost as a root, to an elevated position on a display shelf above the radiator. The scalloped, looping wires which once adorned the display window like curtains had also transformed to roiling coils affixed to a metal rod that lay perpendicular upon the space’s central platform. Upon closer look, a sustained look, I began to doubt what I saw and what I remembered from my first visit. Was the white of the object the same shade of white? Did that object always sit perpendicular to the entryway?
After reflection, I think this doubt, the friction between what one remembers and what one now sees, is a quality needed for endurance and ultimately, Klein’s conception of emergence. Such friction, friction in both looking and remembering, begets a certain determination. There’s a determination to closely look at and hopefully see the work; the physicality needed to wind, to tie, to solder, to meld, and shape material. This physicality, the humanity of Klein’s objects, is a deft reminder and active metaphor for the fact that we, too, live in networks with one another.
Julia Klein’s “Procession” at Roman Susan, 1224 West Loyola, on view through June 11.