Answer Tell Pray Answer Look Tell Answer Answer Tell
Ann Street Gallery presents Answer Tell Pray Answer Look Tell Answer Answer Tell, a group exhibition examining various expressions of code through the work of Elena Ailes, CFGNY, Nolan Oswald Dennis, Laurel Schwulst, and Kevin Zhu. The exhibition will be on display from April 1–June 20, 2021 with supplemental material presented online at www.annstreetgallery.org.
Answer Tell Pray Answer Look Tell Answer Answer Tell considers the use of franchising techniques—namely, licensed reproduction—as a generative method for artistic production. Adopting codes from dressing, sporting, gaming, building, and teaching, the participating authors each point to industrial supply chains and the potential for outsourced expansion. But just as codes implicate specific decoders, they are also bound to corruption. Where the franchise privileges efficiency and uniformity across space, minimizing margins of error, the exhibited works encourage open modes of negotiating distance. Standardized tools relied upon to maintain likeness here serve to enhance subtle variations in form and reception.
Kevin Zhu’s sculptural contribution, What Killed Harry Houdini?, offers a hint to the source of the exhibition title. Husband and wife, Harry and Beatrice “Bess” Houdini (née Rahner), devised the coded sequence of nine words as a way to test the possibility of communication from the afterlife.1 Although Harry’s message never reached Bess through proper channels following the escape artist’s death, the code itself remains as proof of connection.2