Chloë Bass: The Book of Everyday Instruction

April 21 - June 17, 2018
Knockdown Center
New York, NY

Organized by Alexis Wilkinson, Knockdown Center Director of Exhibitions and Live Art


Press Release

Brooklyn Rail, CHLÖE BASS: The Tone, Texture & Taste of Intimacy
Hyperallergic, The Elusive Index of Relationships Between Everyone
Queens Chronicle, Examining the ephemeral nature of interaction
Delicious Line, Chloë Bass: The Book of Everyday Instruction 
Artforum, May – August Previews
New York Times, Spring Gallery Guide: 12 Galleries to Visit Now in Brooklyn and Queens

Public Programs
Friday, May 25, 7:00 pm: Couples Counseling for Artists and Institutions Workshop 
Sunday, June 3, 5:00pm: A Field Guide to Spatial Intimacy Workshop
Thursday, June 14 , 7:00pm: Protect & Preserve Lecture Performance + Closing Party

Chloë Bass: The Book of Everyday Instruction is an eight-chapter investigation of one-on-one social interaction, exploring an expanded understanding of pairing. On view for the first time in its entirety, the exhibition includes all eight major projects developed by Bass between January 2015 and January 2018, as well as interventions created in response to Knockdown Center’s public spaces outside of the gallery. Following the exhibition, the project will also be released as a book, published by The Operating System, and designed and edited by Lynne Desilva-Johnson. 

Bass studies the modes and scales of intimacy, using daily life as a site of research to locate where patterns hold and break as social group sizes expand. Each chapter in The Book of Everyday Instruction asks a central question, such as “How do we know when we’re really together?” “How do we build a place through shared labor over time?” and “How do we share love between individuals and institutions?” Presented sequentially, Bass’ inquiries increase in scale and scope; she begins with an investigation of intimacy between herself and a stranger, and expands outward to study the relationships between individuals and their safe spaces, institutions, and cities.

Bass prioritizes the fostering and observation of everyday interpersonal situations as the basis of her creative practice, conducting experiences through games, movement exercises, and public dialogues that serve as subtle and unconventional social experiments. Within Knockdown Center’s galleries, Bass shares the echoes, archives, and interpretations of these experiences. Outside of the gallery, Bass embeds her work into our surroundings, creating discreet sites that can be encountered in unexpected ways. Both modes prompt thoughtful considerations of how we interact with one an- other and our environment in daily life, a gesture to how quotidian habits shape the world, as Bass puts it, that we make together.

The artworks in the exhibition take a variety of forms across photography, text, video, sculpture, performance, poetic modes of documentation, and site specific interventions. Investigating time spent between two people, Chapter One: you+me together documents sixteen experiences the artist shared with Cleveland residents, engaging in an activity that the participant would normally do with their regular partner. Chapter Two: Things I’ve seen people do lately examines the pair within voyeurism, where only the voyeur knows that the relationship exists. Chapter Three: We walk the world two by two memorializes two-person exchanges between community members in Greensboro, NC to highlight the ongoing, everyday labor that creates a place over time. Chapter Four: It’s amazing we don’t have more fights uses the sociological field of proxemics – the study of how people arrange themselves in space – to investigate how stories are created through the distance between two bodies, and includes site-specific installations in Knockdown Center’s restroom. Chapter Five: Protect & Preserve displays twenty-two postcards made in St. Louis, MO depicting participants in their safe spaces to consider the idea of safety as the relationship between a person and their city. Chapter Six: What is shared, what is offered interrogates the relationships of love between individuals and institutions. Chapter Seven: Subject to change without notice implements City Palette, a phone app that dissects the partnership between subjective experiences of color and public space, asking how we interpret and understand change through color. Concluding the project, Chapter Eight: Complete upon arrival explores the various relationships the artist has had with her audience, returning to the self as an essential element of the pair. This final chapter will have its formal debut at Knockdown Center.

The Book of Everyday Instruction is the second phase in a long-term project of researching intimacy. For the first phase, The Bureau of Self-Recognition (2011 – 2013), Bass worked at the scale of the individual, investigating self-recognition. In January 2018 Bass embarked on the third phase of the project, Obligation To Others Holds Me In My Place, studying relationships at the scale of the immediate family. The first stages of this new project currently appear on Analog, a digital residency hosted by Recess.