It seems like Ben Schumacher took a while to find what he really wanted. The 29-year-old Canadian-born artist studied architecture and art at the University of Waterloo but after what he calls “boring” stints at multinational corporate architecture firms he decided he wanted to get his MFA at New York University. He liked being an artist, and being in New York, so he stayed.
His second solo show at Bortolami suggests the artist is still settling in, trying out new ideas, looking for creative openings.
How’s this for starters: The show combines architecture, sculpture, a radio, organic matter, steel, drawing, photography, and 3-D printed objects. To an outsider who isn’t familiar with Schumacher’s work, the exhibition as a whole seems like a real enigma; for one, why does the exhibition title have so many names attached to it? Here’s the title, so you know what I’m talking about: “New York City Farm Tower: Peter Friel, Rochelle Goldberg, Jason Matthew Lee, Michael Pollard, Jared Madere, Andy Schumacher, Lillian Paige Walton, Jonathan Gean, Eric Schmid, Jonas Asher, Rachelle Rahme, Lauren Burns-Coady, Elaine Cameron Weir, Jenny Cheng, and Heinrike Klinger”. (It turns out the names are of friends that contributed in some form to the show).
More importantly, how are you supposed to understand these vitrines, stoves, and steel door-like objects? But that’s the way the artist likes it—conceptually rigorous, that is. He doesn’t place himself in the same category as, for example, an artist whose paintings are incredibly easy to identify, buy, sell, and install. Instead, Schumacher creates an opaque multilingual, multimedia, and multidisciplinary sort of art. Put it all together and it’s an exhibition.