Patrick Killoran


September 6th – November 1st 2014 

Artist Talk in conversation with Nate Young @ 6pm

Reception 7pm – 9pm

Saturday September 6th


The Bindery Projects is pleased to present Patrick Killoran’s Schattenhändler, the first exhibition to focus on his ongoing inventory of shadows. Killoran has spent the past seven years purchasing shadows, linking supernatural imagery with the act of commodity exchange. The transition between the symbolic and the material can be found in a range of literary texts in the Faustian tradition, as well as in Marx’s rich descriptive language of the spectral. These works deploy the transcendent to explain the economic forces at play in their times, as a means to uncover the coercive relationships implicit in an emergent and unregulated capitalism. Killoran draws on this same language and juxtaposes it to the contemporary realities of late capitalism.


Schattenhändler consists of a series of ‘portfolios’ containing bills of sale that fold out into rubber cutouts of the seller’s shadow. The process of purchase they index has been broken down into a series of steps. First, the seller is paid for his/her shadow, under the condition that he/she signs a contract transferring ownership to Killoran. Prices for the final sale are based on negotiations between artist and seller. Once these formalities are completed, Killoran photographs the seller’s shadow. He then designs a rubber portfolio to file the contract. The portfolio incorporates the image of the shadow reproducing it in silhouette at its original length.


The project began in the summer of 2007, after Killoran came across a reproduction of an 1824 etching by George Cruikshan depicting a devil folding up a man’s shadow. The illustration was taken from Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte (Peter Schlemihl's Amazing Story, 1814) by Adelbert von Chamisso, the story of a man who sells his shadow to the devil in order to gain wealth and power. By the end of the story, the protagonist’s great loss and despair leads to a newly found capacity to contribute to society through an acknowledgment of his choice. Killoran’s work conflates this Faustian bargain with the legacy of the conceptual art contract. Killloran adopts the tongue-in-cheek role of a merchant of shadows, a Schattenhändler. Once the transcendent connotations of the fable are removed and the story becomes matter-of-fact, the idea that someone could buy someone else’s shadow becomes as troubling as it is absurd. For many, the gesture is menacing because we still retain the belief that the shadow might be a stand-in for something essential in existence. Like virtual realities and social media the concept of a shadow merchant presents us with an ideological structure that translates aspects of existence into commodities.


Killoran’s choice of the shadow as subject a matter is purposefully ambiguous. Whether this choice is intended to be symbolic or literal is left unresolved in the work. His comical application of property rights as they relate to intangible relations amounts to an equivocation, suspended mid-way between two world-views.


Killoran’s work is concerned in how products of consumer govern cultural norms. Many of his projects are contingent on relations outside the exhibition space, requiring the participation of the audience to complete the work. His work often does not required the viewer to know that their experience has the status of art but, rather, relies on the particularity of the situation to assert its relevance. For instance, the sign “Need Money? Sell your Shadow” also presented at the Bindery Projects, was originally an exterior sign hung in Washington DC, while Killoran was the Artist-in-Residence at George Washington University. The sign provoked responses from passersby who did not know it was part of an art project. Many of whom, incidentally, ended up selling Killoran their shadows. Locating the work in a perceptual arena where the viewer transitions from daily experience to conceptual conflict is a hallmark of his work.


Killoran’s first major project Observation Deck (Queens) was featured in the 1997 re-opening of PS1 where the work would remain installed for nearly a decade. His installation Immergence was presented at Las Cienegas Projects in Los Angeles in 2009 and since 2010 has been installed at Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. Other solo projects include the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, USA; IKON in Birmingham, UK; Sculpture Center in New York City and Samuel Freeman Gallery in Los Angeles, CA. Killoran has been included in numerous international exhibitions, including Everyday, the 1998 Biennial of Sydney, Australia; Wanås 2000 at the Wanås Foundation in Sweden; All About Laughter at the Mori Museum in Tokyo, Japan; It is what it is. Or is it? at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and The Part In The Story Where A Part Becomes A Part Of Something Else at the Witte de With in Rotterdam, NL. Grants received include Rema Hort Mann Foundation, Penny McCall Foundation and James B. Pick and Rosalyn M. Laudati Funds for Arts Computing at the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities at Northwestern University. In 1998 he attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in 2007. In 2013, he was the Artist-in-Residence at George Washington University. In 2014-15 he will be the Artist-in-Residence at the RDP Innovation Arts Residency Program, Skolkovo Institute in Moscow, RU. Killoran has taught at CalArts and Northwestern University and is currently a Visiting Critic at Yale University School of Art, Sculpture. Killoran lives ad works in New York City.

about Binderyabout.html


   The Bindery