Marietta Hoferer

Auvillar, France | by November 9, 2011

Located in the midi-​​Pyrenees of South­west­ern France is the his­toric hill­top vil­lage of Auvil­lar where I spent a few glo­ri­ous weeks this past August as an artist in res­i­dence through the Vir­ginia Cen­ter for the Cre­ative Arts (VCCA), an art res­i­dency pro­gram that hosts sev­eral inter­na­tional res­i­den­cies out­side of their equally beau­ti­ful home base in Mt. San Angelo, VA. This is where I got to know three won­der­ful artists who all hap­pen to live and work in New York City. Two were visual artists Mari­etta Hoferer and Michael Kukla (who are mar­ried), and the other, a poet Lynne Potts.

When one first walks into Marietta’s stu­dio, you might think she hasn’t been work­ing at all. The walls are bare with seem­ingly blank small to medium sheets of white and black paper. Her two work­ta­bles are absent of any activ­ity and yet are stocked with a vari­ety of scis­sors, post-​​it notes, and mul­ti­ple rolls of dif­fer­ent kinds of tape in var­i­ous gra­da­tions of white. No paint, no brushes, no draw­ings, no mess. Anywhere.

How­ever, as if hid­ing in plain sight, her work appears before the viewer in glis­ten­ing shards of reflec­tive tape, cut and com­posed to cre­ate sophis­ti­cated sys­tems of geo­met­ric shapes, lines and pat­terns that pay homage to a math­e­mat­i­cal form of expres­sion that is at once dis­tant and ele­gant as they are pro­foundly inti­mate. The influ­ence Agnes Mar­tin has on her aes­thetic is unde­ni­able. Even the ini­tial grid pen­cil lines are left exposed to comin­gle with the lay­er­ing and built up pieces of tape that imme­di­ately recall Sol Lewitt. All the inten­sity and labor that is absent from the phys­i­cal stu­dio is embed­ded in her method of work­ing that requires a huge amount of plan­ning. Yet oppo­site of Lewitt is the evi­dence of the hand. It is clear there is a delib­er­ate inten­tion to expose some of the quirky incon­sis­ten­cies of each hand­made cut yet in the end, the hand is qui­etly sub­verted by the big­ger pres­ence of supreme crafts­man­ship and the sub­tlety of the pat­tern remains stead­fast in its mes­mer­iz­ing, if not obscured elegance.

Mari­etta found her lan­guage and expres­sion through the use of tape. She tells the story of going into an art store in New York City for the first time after mov­ing from Ger­many, her coun­try of ori­gin. It was an excit­ing and over­whelm­ing feel­ing of pos­si­bil­ity as she perused through all the vari­eties of tape dis­played before her – unlike any­thing she had pre­vi­ously seen. As she began to explore its prop­er­ties, it made sense for her to begin by sim­ply cut­ting them into angled pieces. These angu­lar shards started to build out into the larger repeated motifs that cre­ate her sophis­ti­cated pat­terns that can be as small as an 8” x 11” or as large as a wall instal­la­tion span­ning sev­eral feet. Another impor­tant fac­tor in her explo­ration was the delight­ful dis­cov­ery of the quiet value shifts that exist between the vary­ing degrees of white, beige and greys both in the tapes as well as in the tone and value of the paper.

“Hoferer chooses mate­ri­als for their phys­i­cal prop­er­ties such as lumi­nos­ity, translu­cency and invis­i­bil­ity, reflec­tiv­ity, glossi­ness, mat­tness and frosted tex­ture or because they age and dis­color over time as in this series Field 1998–2006. Her choice of white only proves to offer uncon­strained vari­a­tions of “white­ness,” fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of mono­chrome painters, most obvi­ously Robert Ryman. She uses a great vari­ety of tapes –Scotch brand, strap­ping and mask­ing– that change in size and tex­ture, translu­cency and reflectivity.”

Mer­cedes, Vicente

Cura­tor of Con­tem­po­rary Art, Govett-​​Brewster Art Gallery, New Ply­mouth, New Zealand

Now back in New York, you can find Mari­etta work­ing in her stu­dio located at the EFA Stu­dio Cen­ter in the Hell’s Kitchen neigh­bor­hood. She is cur­rently work­ing on two exhi­bi­tions open­ing in 2012. This Jan­u­ary, Mate­r­ial Occu­pa­tion at the Uni­ver­sity Art Museum in Albany, NY curated by Corinna Ripps Scham­ing, and The White Show Part Two at the  Pitts­burgh Cen­ter for the Arts in Pitts­burg, PA curated by Vicky Clark. Most recently Mari­etta had a solo show at Galerie Gudrun Fuck­ner in Lud­wigs­burg, Ger­many (see instal­la­tion shot). Black and White: Extreme Value, a group show where her work is included, just opened on Nov. 8 at The New York Insti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy at Gallery 61. The exhibit is up through Nov. 28, 2011.

The time in Auvil­lar was full of lan­guid days and nights as I worked unin­ter­rupted in my sec­ond floor stu­dio over­look­ing a pas­toral hill­side farm. The com­fort­ing sounds of crick­ets chirp­ing, dogs bark­ing, roost­ers crow­ing and even the occa­sional yet unmis­tak­able buzz of scoot­ers speed­ing across the bridge over the Garonne River will be missed– and sum­mer will never be the same again. How­ever what does remain are the rela­tion­ships that were made with these three won­der­ful artists. We shared a lot as a lit­tle fam­ily of sorts and we con­tinue our dia­logue as we are now back in the U.S. The expe­ri­ence from these art res­i­den­cies always impress upon the impor­tance of build­ing an artis­tic rela­tion­ship with other artists in the con­text of the stu­dio — or at least in the con­text of their prac­tice, which to me, is the most inspir­ing part of it all.

To see more of her work go to

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