Special Special is pleased to present Late Summer, Benjamin Langford’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Langford transforms the space with large-scale, illusionistic sculptures that bloom and drape across the walls, including vines, leaves, and fauna in various stages of growth. The artist photographs found plants in high resolution, prints them on canvas, then hand-cuts and reassembles them into soft sculptures. The finished works invite viewers to examine their odd shapes, realistic textures, and minute details otherwise easily dismissed.
As with each exhibition, Special Special has also worked with the artist to produce a functional art edition. For Late Summer, the gallery collaborated with Langford to create felt planters entitled “Tubers”. The planters come in two varieties—either turnips or sunchokes—each available in editions of 200. Often taking form as enlarged, edible structures beneath the soil surface, tubers function as storage organs for nutrients in some plant species. The hyperreality of the planters, which look like tuberous roots, distorts the perception of the real plants living inside them to play with the boundaries between the container and contained.
Langford developed this body of work during quarantine, while caring for his houseplants as a grounding exercise. Just like the way tuberous roots are buried humbly in the earth, turning the last of summer’s bountiful energy into nutrients, the artist’s emphasis on small gestures of care towards the self and nature is driven by feelings of hope and optimism towards the future.
Special Special will also launch the gallery’s first Plant Residency to coincide with Late Summer. The residency selects individuals to leave plants at the gallery that remind them of someone for a short duration, where they will receive water, care, and an accolade on their CV.
Benjamin Langford (b. 1992) is an artist and photographer who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2014. He was born in Connecticut but grew up in London and subsequently Singapore, which exposed him to a diverse range of cultural influences from a young age. Traces of these cities, with their different gardening traditions and plant species, can be found in his work, which centers on contemporary representations of nature and the hyperreal.
Exhibition has been extended through August 31, 2020. Open by appointment!
Special Special is pleased to announce Artists’ Tools, a group exhibition showcasing the innovative devices created by artists to aid in their creative practice or in daily life. Custom, handcrafted, repurposed, or created through assemblage, these tools can be considered artworks in their own right. Artists’ Tools features contributions from 32 artists working in a variety of mediums across fields of art, design, and technology. Featured tools include a string necklace that serves as a measurement device, a self-driving gallery pedestal, and a teapot that doubles as an audio synthesizer.
Special Special will also introduce a limited edition of works on paper in collaboration with James Chrzan. Created daily throughout the course of the exhibition, each site-specific drawing is produced by a hygrothermograph, recording changes in the temperature and humidity inside the gallery over a 24-hour period.
For Artists’ Tools, the gallery space is transformed into a pegboard-clad and studio-inspired setting, serving as a backdrop for viewers to discover these imaginative, playful, and functional objects.Featured artists include Agnes Fries & Giada Montomoli, Beka Goedde, Brett Gui Xin, Britt Moseley, Cevahir Özdoğan, Che-Wei Wang, Conor Klein, Del Hardin Hoyle, Dier Zhang, Half–Wet, Hannah Wnorowski, Izzy Van den Heuvel, James Chrzan, Kevin Abosch, Kunning Huang, Lorraine Li, Ludovic Namin, Marianne Vieulès, Martie Holmer, Max Spitzer, Northy Chen, Patrick Carlin Mohundro, Sebastián Morales & Tiri Kananuruk, Sofía Clausse, Songyi Kim, Steph Mantis, Tim Simonds, Vincent Kosellek, Winslow Funaki, Yin Ming Wong.
As part of the group exhibition Tie Me Up! Lock Me Down! Special Special hosted a series of performances, “Tie Me Up! Cam Shows,” in collaboration with Wildman Clab.
“Tie Me Up! Cam Shows” twists internet broadcast culture into an art form, playing with notions of spectatorship and voyeurism. The series consisted of several artist performances inspired by the themes in Tie Me Up! Lock Me Down!, including imagined psychic space, the composite nature of selfhood, and virtual/actual spectatorship. Special Special set up multiple cameras within the space, and the live streamed across Instagram and YouTube.
This was the fifth project in the poetry/performance series The Frontiers Conference, organized by Wildman Clab at Special Special.
January 25, 2020
12:00 pm—ASMR Chinese Banquet Mukbang
The Special Special staff and friends consumed 100 dumplings as we celebrated the new year of the rat.
6:00–7:00 pm—Mia Kerin
Mia Kerin performed Number 1, a site-specific piece taking place in the world of Tie Me Up! Lock Me Down!, mediating on the art of being prepared.
January 26, 2020
4:00–5:00 pm—Kristen Lee
Kristen Lee’s demonstrated shibari, a decorative knot-tying practice associated with erotic bondage.
Taj’s performance assessed relationships with past lovers while seeking solace in the pleasure found in loving oneself through movement and the luxuriousness of chocolate.
Special Special is pleased to announce Tie Me Up! Lock Me Down!, a group exhibition curated by Banyi Huang and Kristen Lee. The show tells a story of love, heartbreak, and reconciliation. Inspired by the camp of anime, exaggerated narratives in East Asian soap operas, and the baroque, it is an exercise in melodrama.
Tie Me Up! Lock Me Down! features a selection of bodily adornments in the broader sense, including jewelry, garments, and a range of accessories by Angie YooJ Kim, Banyi Huang, Gesualda, Hong Hong Wu, Kristen Lee, Leila Jinnah, Pear Ware, shichuchi, and Use Value, as well as a video piece by Malt Disney.
Special Special transforms into the inner psychic space of an imagined, composite individual, inviting the viewer to be engulfed in unhinged emotions and extreme fantasies. Poised between indulgence and repression, explicit desires and hidden symbolism, she could be any one of us. Here, each wearable piece functions as a performative prop or role-play element, to guide our characters and offer our submission to the binds of love.
Wen-You Cai, founder and director of Special Special, opened her first solo photography exhibition along with a Special Special pop-up at MGM COTAI casino exhibition in October 2019. The exhibition was accompanied by a release of Rooster, Tiger, Sheep by Snake, a photo book featuring photography from the show.
The photography exhibition is titled Rooster, Tiger, Sheep by Snake, named after the zodiac animals of Wen-You’s father (rooster), mother (tiger), and younger sister (sheep). The exhibition features a collection of 175 photographs, mostly on film, in black and white and color photographs, taken over the span of a decade through travel and jet-lag, at work, on vacation, and at home. The series features, in chronological order, the mundane and momentous occasions of her family, with her sister, Wenhao, as a marker of time as she grows up in the images. The series follows each distinct personality living between harmony and discord through moments of play, and occasional ennui, and investigates Wen-You’s spectrum of emotions (as snake) toward her intimately portrayed subjects.
Wen-You was born in 1989 in Tokyo, Japan, and has been based in New York City since 1995. She received a BFA in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design (2012), and an MA in Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship from Goldsmiths College, University of London (2016).