Press Release: Michael Huey, ASH, inc., 15 January – 28 February 2009. Opening 15 Jan., 19-21h
From 15 January – 28 February, Song Song presents ASH, inc., an exhibition of photographs and objects by Vienna-based American artist Michael Huey. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog.
Before Michael Huey (b. 1964) began to show art works, he edited a 539 page tome called The Place of Beginning: On the Huey, Mautz, Lebzelter, McGowan Families and Their Kin. The book is a family history that attempts to synthesize the gargantuan archive that Huey had assembled from the artifacts and remains of his roots, consisting in personal letters, legal documents, and photographs.
In the process of assembling this archive, Huey came into possession of a singular body of information surrounding his family. The meaning of this history, its import in his life, in what sense it affects his present reality’s constitution: questions such as these have become the subject of Huey’s work as an artist, for which he takes this physical material as his medium.
The letters A, S, H are the initials of Huey’s grandfather, and ASH, inc., the name of the latter’s (now defunct) company. In the exhibition at Song Song which takes on this name as its title, Huey meditates on the different meanings of the three letters, orchestrating associations that bring together the historical with the personal, the physical with the mystical, the tragic with the meaningless, all into relations and equations that resist practical, worldly logic to uncover surprising truths.
The exhibition contains photographs from the site of Pompeii next to anonymous images found in an American basement, the residue of an aunt and cancelled checks are found sharing a table, elements of Huey’s first exhibited sculptures.
In his refusal to relinquish the past, in his persistence in interrogating its traces, Huey displays a tenacious obsession with understanding the weave of the fabric of being in time more at home amongst the great novels of the 19th and 20th Centuries than the visual practices of today. And there is something alien and unfamiliar too in the way these works are constructed and presented, an air of elegance and restraint that, much like the “conservative” content of the practice itself, may be considered as resistant to the common notion of contemporary art (and perhaps contemporary thinking) in a constructive way.
Michael Huey was born in Glen Arbor, Michigan in 1964; he holds a B.A. in German Studies from Amherst College and an M.A. in Art History from the University of Vienna. In 2001 Huey published The Place of Beginning. On the Huey, Mautz, Lebzelter, McGowan Families and Their Kin, (self-published, Vienna 2001). In 2005 he had his first solo exhibition, Full Death, at Galerie Lisa Ruyter, Vienna. In addition to participating in many group exhibitions including In-Visible Spaces, Galleria Ugo Ferranti, Rome (2008), and Lost + Found, Schloss Hollenburg (curated by Maximilian von Geymüller), the artist has since solo produced exhibitions in Vienna and abroad, including, Ruined Album, Blumen, Vienna (2007), Betsy and I Killed the Bear, Charim Galerie, Vienna (2007 with catalog), and Keep in a Safe Place, Newman Popiashvili Gallery, New York City (2007). Huey lives and works in Vienna.