Josh Tonsfeldt




4: Cat-Cos
Franco Soffiantino Gallery
Turin, Italy
February 18 - May 1, 2010

Franco Soffiantino Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition 4: Cat - Cos by Josh Tonsfeldt. This is the first European solo show of the American artist and will include videos, photographs, sculpture, and subtle transformations of the gallery space.

The title of the exhibition is taken from a photograph of an abandoned space the artist often passes on walks near his studio. In the image a bundle of encyclopedias rest among a pile of garbage. The juxtaposition of two types of archives within the image - the encyclopedia as an alphabetical ordering of ideas, things, and places, and the garbage pile as an erratic accumulation of waste - might provide an oblique entry point to the larger circulation of works within the exhibition.

While much of Tonsfeldt's work comes from his daily experience, it is in no way a "snapshot" of any particular activity. To this end he does not tie his projects to a specific subject, preferring instead to establish his sensibility and logic anew with each potential gesture. Scenes and figures are drawn into an unscripted collage of sound and vision. At its root lies a curiosity with the material world, a refusal to accept processes as a given, and an interest in bringing to the surface the subjective opacity of memory, association and desire.


Josh, we have been at this back and forth. (You said you lost the file.) (Can I resend it.) (Then you found it.) This is what I remember, in the order it was remembered.

-The anonymous author of a 1914 novel (Russian) gives a synopsis of Chapter 3: "Sacking something, the hero then returns to the interior, forgetting what is burning. The author uses the logic of the factory to calculate the output, speed and noise of the destruction; only it is the smoke of something cooking on the stove."

Check. Pause. Advance.

With rapture.

Steam, which permits him to remake Nature as he sees fit.

Labor only in creative toil, and make it seem hardly laborious at all.

Walking through the countryside, affecting a nonchalant composure when confronted with vast silences, emptiness, blue skies of animal silence.

Thus he conceals his infatuation with straw and lint, his engagement with

the infinite circulation and promise of all moments

...which results in the trained focus of the camera man's closeup,

...the microscope's tenderness.

He can caress or torment his subjects, without them knowing.

In the shaded setting-

Velvet turns to coal, darkening-

Precisely, the subtle, transparent blue sheen of their coats in the semi-darkness, as noiseless as a woman taking a bath, turns to carbon black once the barn door closes for good; once the artist goes inside for his dinner, to edit video, and to call the woman in the bath 3,000 miles away.

And then, he makes no distinction between field or street, inside and out, on the plate or in the garbage. What he finds there. It is a form of abjection, to be so curious.

Pictures are: his poetry incessantly changing dimensions. His metaphors for appearance are himself. Do you have a specifically American smile? Or do lips move universally?

Between random episodes and chaos all that stands is memory, with/or against the will to remember.

An encyclopedia wilts into a Christmas Tree, or a bulb; a towel drapes the bridge of your nose,

one thing succumbs to the contours of another

one index for another


What he has to remember inevitably grows, becomes larger and more complex, like the book itself as we read it. (Lead me around the space now, to see what else I can remember...)

-Allison Katz, 1/31/2010