Means of Production

JULY 09 – AUGUST 29, 2021

In “Means of Production” the Firehouse Art Center presents work from three artists addressing issues of labor, ownership, and consumerism. Within our lives and histories all three concepts are intertwined: they are both personal and general with real-world effects.

Manda Remmen and Noah Breuer present works that invite visitor participation and a hands-on interaction.

Remmen’s series “Decor” consists of chipboard swatches of commercially available home decor paints labeled with their color names in a uniform, swirling script. Remmen invites visitors to rearrange the pieces at will, creating shifiting combinations of color and meaning. Remmen writes: “To decorate a domestic space is to perform and project a particular, desired personality.” We are invited to consider the marketing and cultural implications of each label: is it appealing to us to use a “white lie” or pursue an “elitist” interior? Is a mauve-y beige really “chaste”?

Noah Breuer’s ongoing research project artwork explores the legacy of “Carl Breuer and Sons,” (CB&S) his Jewish family’s former textile printing business,
founded 1897 in Bohemia and lost in 1939 to Nazi collaborators. While Breuer’s artwork memorializes his lost European ancestors, it also asks viewers to reflect on the way in which the family business lent itself to the lifeblood of the Czech town of Dvůr Králové and to the community it helped create there. In this way, his storytelling moves from the personal to the communal. Through his 2016 visit to the CB&S archive of fabric samples and designs held at the Czech Textile Museum, he has amassed a rich digital collection of primary source material. Using this archive, Breuer creates a variety of printed works which not only tell his family’s story of persecution and emigration, but also raise questions about labor, authorship and appropriation.

The Firehouse exhibit includes printed textiles alongside Breuer’s interactive series of engraved designs on clipboards which invite visitors to make new compositions based on the historic prints and add them to the gallery walls. This operation allows participants to inhabit the role of the textile company employees: working together to reproduce designs and lending a sense of shared ownership in the labor and result. This process also encourages gallery
visitors to consider how commercial or political decisions affect individuals excluded from the decision-making process.

In her minimalist, haunting works, artist Alexandra Knox addresses the expectations and necessities of motherhood from the perspective
of labor and product. The Firehouse exhibit features “Stockpile” – a large sculpture of bags of milk reproduced in plaster and placed on
a palette: a product of the female body used for food and presented in bulk in a simple white that emphasizes its volume and significant
weight. Nearby, her “PunchCard” series documents the hours spent caring for her newborn child, stamped on paper to mimic time cards.
Combining aspects of the blue collar workforce and the taxing efforts and endurance associated with nurturing an infant, we are asked to
consider the nuanced physical and emotional realities involved in this “labor of love.”

Means of Production Artist Talk: Alexandra Knox, Manda Remmen, Noah Breuer