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'Slash: Paper Under the Knife' Showcases Work by 50 Artists Who Cut, Burn, Tear, and Shred Paper to Create Compelling Sculpture, Installation, and Video

On View from October 2009 through April 4, 2010, Exhibition Features Works by Thomas Demand, Olafur Eliasson, Tom Friedman and Kara Walker, Among Others

12 Artists Will Create Site-Specific Works in Galleries and in MAD's Open Studios Allowing Public to Watch Fabrication and Installation Process

New York, NY (May 27, 2009)

Slash: Paper Under the Knife explores the international phenomenon of cut paper in contemporary art—showcasing the work of artists who reach beyond the traditional role of paper as a neutral surface to consider its potential as a medium for provocative, expressive, and visually striking sculpture, installation, and video animation. Organized by the Museum of Arts and Design, Slash features work by approximately 50 contemporary artists from sixteen countries, including Thomas Demand, Olafur Eliasson, Tom Friedman, Nina Katchadourian, Judy Pfaff, and Kara Walker, among others. On view from October 7, 2009, through April 4, 2010, the exhibition will also feature 12 new site-specific commissions and installations. Visitors will be able to watch the creative process during the first week of the exhibition, as select artists create new commissions in MAD’s open studios and assemble and install their work in the galleries.

Curated by the Museum’s Chief Curator, David Revere McFadden, Slash is the third exhibition in MAD's Materials and Process series, which examines the renaissance of traditional handcraft materials and techniques in contemporary art and design. Previous installments in the series include Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting (2007) and Pricked: Extreme Embroidery (2008). Slash: Paper under the Knife is made possible by Kate’s Paperie. Generous additional support is provided by the Angelica Berrie Foundation.

“Despite the many new materials and technologies available to artists working today, we are seeing a wonderful trend in which more and more artists are turning back to age-old materials like paper to really push new boundaries in art,” said Holly Hotchner, the Nanette L. Laitman Director of the Museum. “The artists in this exhibition do not just see paper as a work surface. They’ve considered paper’s inherent properties and devised ways of transforming this ubiquitous material into extraordinary sculptures,  room-sized installations, and animations. I think our visitors will be surprised and delighted by what can be done with paper.”

Slash presents a range of subjects that artists across the world are exploring through cut paper, such as landscape, the human body, architecture, politics, and language. The processes and techniques used in these investigations include burning, tearing, perforating, and shredding paper as well as cutting with knives, scissors, and lasers. Some artists work slowly, cutting intricate designs with painstaking patience, while others slash and crumple with performative energy.

“Looking at traditional mediums and techniques through the lens of contemporary art, Slash showcases artists whose works surprise for their complexity and content, and not just for their technical virtuosity,” states McFadden. “Slash takes the pulse of the international art world's renewed interest in paper as a creative medium and source of artistic inspiration. The exhibition places this phenomenon in a global context, including work by artists from 16 countries and representing five continents.”

“Kate’s Paperie is delighted to support the Museum of Arts and Design’s exhibition―a remarkable presentation of works solely made out of paper," said Angelica Berrie, owner of Kate’s Paperie and President of The Russell Berrie Foundation. "As a company that strives to continuously encourage innovation, creativity and artistry, Kate’s Paperie’s support of the Museum and this exhibition is a natural partnership."



Organized thematically, Slash examines how paper can inspire new investigation into concepts that have long concerned artists from around the world, ranging from explorations of the human condition to the nature of three dimensional space. The exhibition will include the following seven groupings:

- Cutting as Gesture: Drawing with the Knife
The artists in this section, most of whom come to paper after working in painting, drawing, and engraving, seize upon paper cutting as a means of making drawings three-dimensional. German artist Andreas Kocks will install a massive explosion of black paper that captures the dynamism of wet paint thrown violently against a wall. California artist Fran Siegel will install a multi-layered installation that interacts visually with the architecture of Columbus Circle, while Adam Fowler of New York will be represented by a complex three-dimensional drawing consisting of dozens of individual sheets of paper from which all the ground has been cut away, preserving only the drawn lines.

- Cutting as Topography: Exploring Landscape
Several artists in Slash use cut and altered paper to explore landscapes, both real and imagined. These works propose surprising and fictitious places, alter and distort maps to eradicate function, or create otherworldly three-dimensional geographies. British artist Chris Kenny will create a new, fictional city, from deconstructed maps, while French-born artist Beatrice Coron will produce an ambitious vista of both Heaven and Hell, inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy. Coron’s work will be created on-site during a three-week residence in MAD’s Open Studios, allowing all MAD visitors to watch her as she produces this new piece. 

- Structure and Space: Slicing Architecture
Paper has long been used to make models and architectural maquettes. This section features works that explore new possibilities in the interrelationship between flat paper, three-dimensional space, and the built  environment. Olafur Eliasson’s Your House, a limited-edition artist's book, has a laser-cut negative impression of Eliasson’s house in Copenhagen, Denmark. As readers leaf through the pages, they slowly  make their way through the rooms of the house from front to back. Tomás Rivas, from Chile, carves ordinary sheetrock into classical architectural ornaments and trim. For Slash, he will do his most ambitious piece: a rendering of Baroque artist Andrea Pozzo’s dramatic trompe l’oeil Apotheosis of St. Ignatius, painted on the ceiling of Sant’Ignazio church in Rome. German artist Thomas Demand builds highly realistic full-scale environments of cut and folded paper objects which he then photographs. The model of his environment is destroyed and only the large-scale photographic print remains as the final document. 

- Corporeal Concerns: Revealing the Body
Many artists have used paper as a metaphor for the skin that covers the human body. American Tom Friedman is represented by Zombie, a floor sculpture depicting a decomposing figure made of and leaving behind a trail of shredded magazines and newspapers. German-born artist Oliver Herring creates life-size, 3-D portraits constructed of hundreds of close-up photographic images of his subject’s body; these are printed and cut into small fragments and painstakingly reassembled over a three-dimensional body. 

- Dissecting the Past: Myths and Memories
American artist Nava Lubelski is interested in paper as the record of human interaction. She uses paper documents—letters, receipts, ticket stubs, Post-It notes—shredding them into strips, rolling them into small bundles, and assembling them in new forms that resemble the cross-sections of a tree. For Slash, Lubeski, will create a new work called Crush, made of five years worth of personal documentation of an individual’s “coming out” as a gay man. Brazilian-born Célio Braga is creating a site specific installation for Slash - a floor-to-ceiling wall of memorial wreaths and garlands comprised of thousands of small flowers cut from the instructions that have accompanied the prescription drugs used by the artist’s family and friends, a poignant tribute to all of the illnesses—from hay fever to AIDS—that have intersected with the artist’s life. 

- Shredding the Word: Books and Language
The artists in this section respond to paper as a carrier of the written word, using their knives and scissors to modify, subvert, or celebrate the text printed on a page. Scottish artist Georgia Russell shredded Gombrich’s The Story of Art, flaying its pages and preserving it under a glass bubble, like a taxidermy specimen. British artist Su Blackwell elicits childhood memories of favorite readings, as she cuts up old books, turning them into delicate and fragile three-dimensional dreamscapes. For Slash, Blackwell will transform the pages of Darwin’s The Origin of Species. In contrast, American artist Ariana Boussard-Reifel undermines the text of her chosen volume, a white supremacist manual, by cutting out every single word and turning the book into a heap of meaningless words. 

- The Moving Image: Paper and Action
A special feature of Slash is a series of animated films that use paper silhouettes and stop-action photography. German animator Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, is among the earliest surviving animated feature film renowned for its brilliant use of cut paper silhouettes and is included in Slash to lend context to contemporary experiments in paper animation. Kara Walker, who is best known for her iconic silhouette images, is represented with one of her provocative and unsettling shadow puppet animations. British artist Rob Carter’s work employs video animation and photographic ‘re-constructions’ that exploit the theatricality of architecture and landscape. He will create a film about the building of The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine for Slash, showing the structure’s physical evolution over time.


In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum will organize artist demonstrations in its Open Studios, residences, workshops, lectures, and screenings of videos of artist’s at work, as well as programs for children and families. Many programs will be made available on-line as well as on-site.


Slash: Paper under the Knife is made possible by Kate’s Paperie. Generous additional support is provided by the Angelica Berrie Foundation.


Slash: Paper Under the Knife will be accompanied by a fully illustrated publication that includes a foreword by Museum Director Holly Hotchner and an essay by David Revere McFadden, the exhibition’s organizing curator. The essay examines the international renaissance of interest in cut paper as an art form today, and the work of approximately 50 artists from North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Color images of works by each artist, and artists’ biographies, and statements will be included. The volume is published and distributed internationally by 5 Continents Editions in Italy.


For over 20 years, Kate's Paperie has been a resource for beautiful papers from around the world providing customers with creative inspiration and the tools to bring their ideas to life. Kate’s Paperie stocks over 4,000 papers from more than 40 countries, and other related items including gift wrap, journals, artisanal greeting cards, desk accessories, photo albums, frames, boxed stationery, and a selection of over 1,500 ribbons. Kate’s Paperie’s handmade boxes can be created from nearly any of the papers carried in the store and most of the products carried in the store can be customized including engraving, embossing, thermography, and letterpress printing, to world-famous gift wrapping services, unique corporate gifts, and individual design consultations.

Kate’s Paperie products and services are available worldwide through in addition to five retail locations; four in New York City and one in Greenwich, Connecticut.


The Museum of Arts and Design explores how craftsmanship, art, and design intersect in the visual arts today. The Museum focuses on contemporary creativity and the ways in which artists and designers from around the world transform materials through processes ranging from the handmade to cutting edge technologies.

The Museum’s exhibition program explores and illuminates issues and ideas, highlights creativity and craftsmanship, and celebrates the limitless potential of materials and techniques when used by creative and innovative artists. MAD’s permanent collection is global in scope and focuses on art, craft, and design from 1950 to the present day.
At the center of the Museum’s mission is education. The Museum’s dynamic new facility features classrooms and studios for master classes, seminars, and workshops for students, families and adults. Three open artist studios engage visitors in the creative processes of artists at work and enhance the exhibition programs.

Lectures, films, performances and symposia related to the Museum’s collection and topical subjects affecting the world of contemporary art, craft and design are held in a renovated 150-seat auditorium.


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