New York

James Biederman

Ferrara’s use of progression relies on the order of building where the whole arises out of the systematic structuring of its parts. In contrast, James Biederman’s additive procedure implies patterns of growth where each part is induced rather than deduced from its predecessor. Biederman’s pieces tend to work in pairs, providing alternative possibilities of arrangement for similar accumulations of materials. His horizontal gluing together of slate fragments into a waving line is juxtaposed with his vertical stacking of an equal number of slate pieces. Horizontally the sections join at the side so that the top edges meet, one to the next, in the literal taking of a line for a walk. The zigzag teething of the bottom edges punctuates the smoother rhythm of the top and exposes its part by part progression. This work split as it was being lifted into an upright position, necessitating at one point the insertion of marble blocks for support—an unfortunate fact because tension between the horizontal thrust of the line and the downward pull of gravity is broken. However, it is really the vertical grouping of the stones which lends this piece significance, and takes it outside of its incipient dinosaur backbone references. Here the slate piles piece on piece, aligning along a straight edge only on one side. One recognizes this work as the leftover inverse of the other. And one realizes that the sum of one plus one plus one need not be the same. That growth is as much an ongoing process from one to two and then to three as it is from beginning to end.

Similarly Biederman’s two drawings comment on each other. In one a long wobbly horizontal line is amassed by pasting together successive sheets of paper each with a graphite line drawn across the center. Only the end fragment of each paper’s line is visible as they layer one on top of the other. One has the feeling of a myriad of lines feeding into what becomes defined as the final image. Line is returned to its origins as the connection between a series of points. The other drawing articulates the discontinuity of the line as a progressive selection of points. By placing the separate lines along the vertical axis of the paper edges, Biederman emphasizes their varying size in accordance with the increasing and decreasing cuts of the paper. The whole no longer predicates sameness but difference. Progression seems not so much the system as the step of going from A to B. C is not a foregone conclusion.

Susan Heinemann