Collaborations with David Staniunas

From semi-coherent blots, smudges and rants to well-deformed bodies, texts, objects and spaces, Adam Hinterlang and David Staniunas have maintained a drawing practice since 2008. They have developed a shared idiom to refine a back-porch consideration of class, masculinity, natural history, human geography, postcolonialism, punk rock and dub reggae.

Deformation of the figure is one of their key tactics. Adam and David both come from abstract formal behaviors: tachisme in video, and abstract painting. They retrieve figuration from paleoconservative revanchism or kitsch precisely to guarantee its reappearance as satire: bankers suck blood, the Pope is a shark, and everyone eats shit.

Strategically, disfigurement responds to a public culture of noise and a national politics apparently governed by a large, drunken uncle. The grotesque, the brutalized and the alien in the drawings imagine an increasingly cheapened public discourse: monkeys gathering at Speakers Corner on Sunday to stare each other down, fling shit and masturbate frantically.

In 2009, the pair staged an exhibition at Kenyon College, spending a weekend drawing in various media, installing large and small works and pieces of video. At a point of exhaustion one afternoon while Adam taught, David turned the iPod to Dub/Reggae/Dancehall and was given Jah Jah Conqueror by Linval Thompson. The influence of dub on their practice has never abated.

Not only are the formal characteristics of dub—revision, re-inscription, low-fidelity, accident—akin to Adam and David’s marker drawings—the emancipatory declarations of reggae singers about the evils of capitalism, and the alienating Dada tactics of collage amid these moral exhortations thrilled the men. Their inclusion of glancing bits of text came to evoke the vocal outbursts of dub musicians, an aural signature, and an appeal to the audience to countersign for the artists. Adam and David performed Horace Andy’s Skylarking, a song evoking the non-remunerative intellectual labor, the fastidious slackness of their practice at 13 Tulane in Columbus, OH in 2010.