Gulch, Valley, Ravine

New work by Jacob C. Hammes

Opening Reception:  First Friday, March 3rd 6pm – 10pm
Exhibition dates: March 3rd– 26th
Open Saturdays and Sundays, 2pm – 6pm, or by appointment

Pink Noise Projects is pleased to present Gulch, Valley, Ravine: A Solo Exhibition by artist Jacob C. Hammes. The exhibition features new works that examine the architectures and symbols associated with global capitalism, rendered as detailed scale models and material experiments. This exhibition draws from different bodies of the artist’s work from the past five years, centering around symbols and sites of economic and political influence on the local and global scale. With replicas of shipping containers, deteriorating squad cars, and dioramas of the gatherings of world leaders, objects and places considered impermissible or verboten are depicted as connectors of capitalist ideology.

In Summit and Valley, Hammes renders highly detailed sculptures cast in graphite and urethane, depicting the gathering locations of world leaders.  Each year at global summits like the G20, the Belt and Road Forum, the Arctic Council, or the International Monetary Fund, influential political figures meet to shake hands, take photos, and plan the political, economic, and ecological fates of world communities while drinking coffee at massive round or ring-shaped tables. In Hammes’ series, depictions of these scenes feature scale models of chairs, coffee cups, and water pitchers, providing evidence of human presence amidst the strange geometry of these bureaucratic settings. The sooty, shiny, and metallic sheen of graphite saturating these sculptures invokes a certain Noir-like treatment recalling Kubrick’s pentagon war room in Dr. Strangelove – as a high contrast, ominous, almost alchemical place where death and violence are never far away. While there’s a close association with the actual proportions and ephemera found in these real architectures, certain elements reveal familiar symbolism, harkening to the haunting uncanniness of the memento mori – the ever present specter of death.

In Hammes’ Container series, images of shipping containers stacked in shipyards are rendered as wall mounted sculptures. As an internationally standardized method of moving things between earthly locations since the 1950s with incredible efficiency, these 8’ tall corrugated steel boxes became a crucial tool that contributed to the accelerated pace of industrialization in the past 70 years. Operating like blood cells traveling through the veins of global capitalism, the duality of this innovation is absurdly simple: that a mundane thing like a metal box can facilitate both prosperity and destruction at massive scales. Depicted as mausoleum-like stacks, Hammes conjures these objects as emblems of mortality, while the treated surfaces flocked with bright blue polyester fibers recall both the velvety interiors of jewelry boxes and of the cold uniformity of minimalist monochromes.

In Meeting of the Servants of the Collective Imagination, a vinyl text wrapping the room moves around the space horizontally and vertically, dodging sculptures and veering towards the gallery’s architectural features to invite a sense of disorientation or dizziness. Drawing from research gathered for Summit and Valley, the text is composed of edits or creative reinterpretations of the last ten years of G20 “Leaders Declarations,” a public document penned by the attendees of the yearly summit that describes their unified commitments to the parts of human life that are identified as ‘needing improvement.’ Through various processes both automated and manual, Hammes attempts to revise, renovate, and divorce the language of international neoliberalism from the source documents in favor of declarations focused on collective thought: impassioned, Utopian, absurd, and leaving intact some of the nonsensical artifacts generated by the process of writing a manifesto through automation. To engage, viewers must focus their eyes upon parts of the gallery space that often receive little attention: baseboards, light fixtures, window frames, and thermostats all become part of the work. The viewer is enveloped inside a sculptural architectural installation, which raises questions on the experience of being led through a space without knowing what kind of ideological hailing they might be participating in.

Jacob C. Hammes is an interdisciplinary artist, arts organizer, and educator based in Philadelphia. Working primarily in sculpture, drawing, and sound, Hammes’ work explores themes of late capitalist anxieties and absurdities, examining how we constitute ourselves as individuals within these networks of culture, labor, and authority. Hammes holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from Tyler School of Art. He teaches at Tyler School of Art, Moore College of Art and Design, and University of the Arts.

Hammes is currently working on a large-scale public art project in collaboration with Mural Arts Philadelphia on the site of Prevention Point, which is a harm-reduction and aid organization that serves communities of unhoused and addiction-facing residents in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood. The project involves repair, mural painting, and the fabrication of useful infrastructure, including a solar-powered kitchen built inside a modified shipping container.

Hammes is the author and illustrator of “101 Jokes About the Working Class,” a collection of (mostly) Leftist jokes and illustrations, and “The Grand Ballroom of Doom,” a biweekly comic strip published by the Philly Art Blog that depicts the brutality of late-stage capitalism as absurdist comedy. He has served as the Director and Curator of Pilot+Projects, an artist-run exhibition space in Philadelphia, since 2016. Hammes has shown his work at spaces such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the National Liberty Museum, the Woodmere Art Museum, The Grunwald Gallery at Indiana University, The Hills Aesthetic Center, Temple Contemporary, Moore College of Art and Design, The Hyde Park Art Center, the Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts in Auckland, Information Space, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.