In the Renaissance Society’s current exhibition of Nora Schultz, parrottree – building for bigger than real, the extendable and retractable poles of tripods construct a type of second architecture for the space. Sounds of birds commingle with traces of the Peregrine Falcon and monk parakeets. Presented in collaboration with Andy Ortmann, the audio installation is outputted at various volumes through different speakers throughout the entire gallery. The walls and floors are laid bare. While built specifically for the space, this is not Schultz’s first use of tripods as the main component of the work. The initial installation manifested at an exhibition entitled Stative auf der Flucht/ The tripod’s escape at Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie recently on view in Berlin, which opened in December of 2013. In both exhibitions, Schultz’s attitude toward her selected objects’ both identify and conceal their disappearance – a strategy that leaves only visual traces, drawn sketches, and print works that function as a visceral evidence of a process seemingly made elsewhere. Aspects of the constellation of materials Schultz has used in past iterations – moonboots, angle stabilizers, stencils, and prints – resurface in her engagement with the Hyde Park neighborhood – where the tripod, as a mechanic apparatus of looking and watching, coalesces with technology, like a drone into nature.
A type of spatial grid floats above the viewer’s head, hanging prints of stencils depict the outlines of words, interspersed throughout the rafters above – excerpts from a spoken conversation are inscribed on poles that are stuck directly into moonboots, positioning them upright. Industrial clamps secure the poles onto the expansive white trusses that loom overhead, as if in an attempt to pin down the language. Partial phrases are written on the newly implemented architecture, such as, “RECONSTRUCTED COGNITIVE ARCHITECTURE COULD BE RE-ARRANGED IN A FEW SIMPLE STEPS THAT…” “…THAT WOULD TURN THIS MODEL INTO AN ARTIFICIALLY INTELLIGENT TRIPOD THAT…” “WHENEVER PEOPLE POINT AT ME. SAY LOOK AT HIM I LOOK AT…” – sentences not fully articulated. These written thoughts ruminate from one corner of the gallery to another. All the while, the natural and digitally enhanced contrapuntal sounds of birds permeate the space, existing as “the most figurative references” in the exhibition, according to Hamza Walker,
Schultz’s site-specific trajectory originates out of a performative activity. Often, she creates a printing machine on site of the exhibition, one of which was previously featured in a group exhibition Ecstatic Alphabets/Unseen Language at the MoMa in May, 2012. Another, at the Portikus Printing Plant and Portikus Sounds exhibition at Portikus, in Berlin from June through September 2012, was arranged into a sculptural installation. While parrottree remains newly made for the space, Schultz’s formal approach also echoes Renaissance Society’s history of enacting dramatic changes onto the gallery space. In 2006, Avery Pressman exhibited a large circular floor sculpture that encompassed almost the entire gallery, including web-like structures of plaster and wood that stratified the viewer’s experience; more recently, Suicide Narcissus, curated by Hamza Walker, dealt with the architectural limitations of visual access, featuring Leviathan’s Edge by Lucy Skaer – a skeleton of a whale, visible only through seams in the drywall. Similarly, Nora’s exhibition explores the spatial while also invoking the corporeal – the work hangs from above, our experience is turned upward. In order to read and view the work, one must turn their head to look up, as one would with paintings on the vaulted ceilings of an antiquated museum. For parrottree – building for bigger than real, a proximate engagement can be seen in the exhibition at Portikus, in which several “field recordings” were played in parallel with the live recording of captured noises from Frankfurt’s metropolitan spaces: the Maininsel, and Portikus’s urban environment, as well as sound fragments from movies, television, and radio.
Shutlz’s work exists in a migratory difference – between Berlin and Chicago – while also specifically referencing the displacement of the monk parakeet in Hyde Park that she uses as her subject, which is not native to Washington Park but has made its new home. Illustrated within the breadth of her practice, one body of work’s logic is transferred into another, informing and creating new possibilities. Her current exhibition at Bortolozzi, which features an exhibition text comprised of a sci-fi interview that was cut up and collaged together to function as the press release, informs the upcoming Phantom II: Drone Performance at the Renaissance Society on the closing day of the exhibition. The performance is sourced from a news article in the New York Times entitled State of the Art, written by Kit Eaton, which pictures the image of a drone. In this exhibition, the printed words hanging above surveil the space, all the while “language communicates itself.” Schultz raises the question of what is communicated by the figure of the word, “parrot” in the English language, having more so to do with what the word parrot does in language; its ability to alleviate and communicate mutability, and how its address echoes the space and location surrounding it.
–– Nora Schultz, parrottree – building for bigger than real is on view at The Renaissance Society through February 23, 2014.
 Hamza Walker, Gallery Walk-Through on Wednesday, Jan 29th, 2014 http://www.renaissancesociety.org/site/Exhibitions/Events.Nora-Schultz-parrottree-building-for-bigger-than-real.643.html
 Benjamin, Walter, Michael William. Jennings, Marcus Paul Bullock, Howard Eiland, Gary Smith, Edmund Jephcott, and Rodney Livingstone. “On Language As Such and the Language of Man.” Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2004. 62-74.
Published in THE SEEN.