Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects is pleased to announce the opening of "One Blood," our first exhibition with Chicago-based artist Samuel Levi Jones. For the last several years, Jones has been digesting, skinning, and processing the form and material of academic reference books. His work is engaged in questioning the power structures that permeate every aspect of knowledge production.
The paintings and sculptures in "One Blood" are made from medical reference and text books, many of which were found discarded on the streets of San Francisco. Jones deconstructs these books, objects with contents that are generally thought to be objective or authoritative, and exposes the subjectivity of their author(s) and the limits of their expertise. This critique is conducted physically: Jones separates the fabric book covers from their cardboard supports, their binding, and their contents. The covers are collaged onto canvas, rendering compositions that evoke the peeling surfaces and stacked construction of vernacular urban architectures and the vulnerable transparency of human skin, without leaving any question that these are paintings made from books. The recognizable fabric of library copies, weathered and stained, loose threads, and suggestions of institutional and personal ex libris remain while the content of the books is discarded and withheld from the viewer.
Culling the covers of the medical texts that compose his new paintings, Jones came across several references to J. Marion Sims, “The Father of Modern Gynecology.” In the mid-19th century Sims set out to cure vaginal fistulas. He conducted his research on enslaved African American women, without the benefits of the available anesthesia. As a result of this research, Sims did pioneer a procedure to resolve vaginal fistulas. It is also true that this research and the resulting knowledge about women’s bodies is a product of both violent white supremacy and male supremacy that continues to inflect gynecological practice and research to our present moment. The works in One Blood do not carry this information in any literal sense: The viewer can neither read the texts nor see the titles of the books. And yet the flayed and collaged paintings suggest that knowledge both expands through time and remains consigned to the structures and value systems from which the questions of contemporary research originate. Likewise, in Jones’ new sculptures, made from stacked books enrobed in paper pulp from books whose contents have been returned to a state that predates their printing, books form an impermeable structure rather than an open source.
Samuel Levi Jones received an MFA from Mills College in Oakland, CA in 2012. He has had solo exhibitions at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, IN; the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Galerie Lelong, New York, NY; PATRON, Chicago, IL; and PAPILLON, Los Angeles, CA. His work has been included in group exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; the Mistake Room, Los Angeles, CA; Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco, CA; and the Watts Towers Art Center, Los Angeles, CA among others. Jones is represented by PATRON in Chicago, IL and Galerie LeLong in New York, NY.