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“In a world that really has been turned on its head, truth is a moment of falsehood.”

– Guy Debord

Hans Haacke
Star Gazing, 2004
digital C-print on aluminum
50 x 37 in.
127 x 94 cm

Hans Haacke
Star Gazing, 2004
digital C-print on aluminum
50 x 37 in.
127 x 94 cm

P·P·O·W is pleased to present Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World, a group exhibition featuring works by a range of historical, established, and emerging artists. Since antiquity at least, the notion of “the world on its head” has communicated a sense of extreme crisis or carnivalesque aberration. In an inverted world, normal order is upended. Hierarchies are reversed. Opposites trade places. Values shift. Like a demonstrator waving an upside-down flag, artists frequently invoke this trope to express dissent—a visual sign of protest in unjust times.

Carlos Motta
Inverted World, 2016
single channel HD video, with sound
Total running time: 7:30
aspect ratio: 16:9

Carlos Motta
Inverted World, 2016
single channel HD video, with sound
Total running time: 7:30
aspect ratio: 16:9

Articulating the breadth of significance for the trope, the exhibition includes a diverse array of works from the late 19th century to the present. Carlos Motta’s video projection Inverted World (2016) documents the artist suspended naked by his feet inside the chapel at Tenuta Dello Scompiglio in Lucca, Italy — a homoerotic homage to an inversion of biblical pedigree: Caravaggio’s Crucifixion of St. Peter (c. 1600). Suzanne Treister’s Hexen 2.0: Literature (2009-11) traces the intellectual roots of our contemporary condition through a series of backwards book jackets. One gallery will feature avant-garde photography made in and around the 1930s, a decade so apposite for our times, as well as moments of homosocial intimacy captured by photographer Alice Austen in the 1890s, an era when “invert” meant homosexual. Also included will be work by young artists currently or recently enrolled in Columbia’s MFA program (Yasi Alipour, Hugh Hayden, and Alex McTigue). Curator and art historian Jack McGrath will offer an illustrated catalogue essay situating these varied strategies within a context yet deeper than the century represented in the exhibition.

Each work of art included mobilizes a kind of contraposition, rotation, or radical reversal. Each involves some vertiginous dislocation, perverse twist, or dizzying shift. Each also confronts a set of social conditions—race, gender, aging, war, sexuality, modernity, and faith, to name a few. Capsized and switched, unsettled and unsettling, these works interrogate the role of art in a world upside-down. In a time when we speak of catastrophe in the same breath as circus, where clowns rule and majorities don’t, where news is fake and lies are real, art history offers both warning and hope.

Jack McGrath (PhD, Harvard 2014) teaches at the Columbia University School of the Arts. He has taught art history and critical theory at Barnard, Parsons MFA Fine Arts, Cooper Union, and Yeshiva College. His essay "Processing Blood and Soil" appears in the Hans Haacke October Files (2015), and his monographic study of Piero Manzoni, based on his doctoral dissertation, is forthcoming.

Exhibited Works

Exhibited Works Thumbnails
Adam Putnam Threshold (Chrysalis IV), 2014

Adam Putnam
Threshold (Chrysalis IV), 2014
wood, aluminum, rope, door stops, old denim
dimensions variable

Man Ray Untitled 1922 from the portfolio 12 Rayographs, 1921-28 

Man Ray
Untitled 1922 from the portfolio 12 Rayographs, 1921-28 
gelatin silver print, printed 1963 
11 3/8 x 8 1/2 in.
28.9 x 21.6 cm
Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York 

Helmar Lerski Der Bettler ("The Beggar"), 1929

Helmar Lerski
Der Bettler ("The Beggar"), 1929
vintage gelatin silver print
11 1/2 x 9 1/8 in.
29.2 x 23.2 cm
Courtesy Ubu Gallery, New York 

Stefan and Francsciszka Themerson

Stefan and Francsciszka Themerson
Enlarged Framed From "Apteka" ("Pharmacy"), 1930
vintage gelatin silver print (photogram)
4 5/8 x 5 3/8 in.
11.8 x 13.7 cm
Courtesy Ubu Gallery, New York 

Franz Roh Untitled (from “Metaporphosen des Hernn Miracoloss 1923-1950), c. 1930s  

Franz Roh
Untitled (from “Metaporphosen des Hernn Miracoloss 1923-1950), c. 1930s  
collage
9 3/4 x 14 1/2 in.
24.8 x 36.8 cm
Courtesy Ubu Gallery, New York 

John Heartfield Der Henker und Die Gerechtigkeit ("The Executioner and the Justine"), 1933

John Heartfield
Der Henker und Die Gerechtigkeit ("The Executioner and the Justine"), 1933
gelatin silver print
37 x 29 1/2 in.
94 x 74.9 cm
Courtesy Ubu Gallery, New York 

Hans Bellmer La Poupée (Le Torse) [“The Doll” (“The Torso”)], 1935

Hans Bellmer
La Poupée (Le Torse) [“The Doll” (“The Torso”)], 1935
vintage silver gelatin print overpainted with white gouache
16 3/8 x 16 12/0 in.
41.6 x 40.6 cm
Courtesy Ubu Gallery, New York 

Alexander Rodchenko Dive, 1935

Alexander Rodchenko
Dive, 1935
silver gelatin print
8 7/8 x 5 7/8 in.
22.5 x 14.9 cm

Yasi Alipour The (un)Raveling of a Thought, 2016

Yasi Alipour
The (un)Raveling of a Thought, 2016
blackboard with chalk
17 x 23 x 2 in.
43.2 x 58.4 x 5.1 cm
Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York 

Dan Graham Video Projection Outside Home, 1978-1998

Dan Graham
Video Projection Outside Home, 1978-1998
architectural model, painted wood and plastic
9 x 20 x 30 3/8 in.
22.9 x 50.8 x 77.2 cm
Courtesy Greene Naftali, New York 

Mona Hatoum + and -, 1994

Mona Hatoum
+ and -, 1994
hardwood, steel blades, electric motor and sand
12 1/4 x 12 14/0 x 5 1/2 in.
31.1 x 30.5 x 14 cm
Collection of Brett Gorvy & Amy Gold, New York 

Martha Wilson Beauty + Beastly, 1974 and 2009

Martha Wilson
Beauty + Beastly, 1974 and 2009
black and white photographs, text
17 x 23 1/2 ins.
43.2 x 59.7 cm

Louise Bourgeois Femme, 2005

Louise Bourgeois
Femme, 2005
bronze, silver nitrate patina
13 x 16 1/2 x 7 3/4 in.
33 x 41.9 x 19.7 cm
Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York 

Martha Rosler Invastion, 2008

Martha Rosler
Invastion, 2008
photomontage
30 x 53 3/8 in.
76.2 x 135.6 cm
Courtesy Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York 

Hugh Hayden Mortgage, 2017

Hugh Hayden
Mortgage, 2017
hand-carved Christmas trees and mirror on panel
48 x 96 x 36 in.
121.9 x 243.8 x 91.4 cm

David Wojnarowicz Untitled from Sex Series (for Marion Scemama) (train), 1988-89

David Wojnarowicz
Untitled from Sex Series (for Marion Scemama) (train), 1988-89
gelatin silver print
44.45 x 53.98 cm
17 1/2 x 21 1/4 in.

Carolee Schneemann Interior Scroll: The Cave, 1994

Carolee Schneemann
Interior Scroll: The Cave, 1994
signed and dated on face along the right edge
black and white photograph
10 x 8 ins.
25.4 x 20.3 cm

Jenny Holzer New Tilt, 2011

Jenny Holzer
New Tilt, 2011
vertical, tilted, double-sided LED sign with blue and red diodes on from and blue and green diodes on the back, stainless steel housing
111 1/2 x 6 x 3 5/8 in.
283.2 x 15.2 x 9.2 cm
Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York 

Adam Putnam Threshold (Chrysalis IV), 2014

Adam Putnam
Threshold (Chrysalis IV), 2014
wood, aluminum, rope, door stops, old denim
dimensions variable

Man Ray Untitled 1922 from the portfolio 12 Rayographs, 1921-28 

Man Ray
Untitled 1922 from the portfolio 12 Rayographs, 1921-28 
gelatin silver print, printed 1963 
11 3/8 x 8 1/2 in.
28.9 x 21.6 cm
Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York 

Helmar Lerski Der Bettler ("The Beggar"), 1929

Helmar Lerski
Der Bettler ("The Beggar"), 1929
vintage gelatin silver print
11 1/2 x 9 1/8 in.
29.2 x 23.2 cm
Courtesy Ubu Gallery, New York 

Stefan and Francsciszka Themerson

Stefan and Francsciszka Themerson
Enlarged Framed From "Apteka" ("Pharmacy"), 1930
vintage gelatin silver print (photogram)
4 5/8 x 5 3/8 in.
11.8 x 13.7 cm
Courtesy Ubu Gallery, New York 

Franz Roh Untitled (from “Metaporphosen des Hernn Miracoloss 1923-1950), c. 1930s  

Franz Roh
Untitled (from “Metaporphosen des Hernn Miracoloss 1923-1950), c. 1930s  
collage
9 3/4 x 14 1/2 in.
24.8 x 36.8 cm
Courtesy Ubu Gallery, New York 

John Heartfield Der Henker und Die Gerechtigkeit ("The Executioner and the Justine"), 1933

John Heartfield
Der Henker und Die Gerechtigkeit ("The Executioner and the Justine"), 1933
gelatin silver print
37 x 29 1/2 in.
94 x 74.9 cm
Courtesy Ubu Gallery, New York 

Hans Bellmer La Poupée (Le Torse) [“The Doll” (“The Torso”)], 1935

Hans Bellmer
La Poupée (Le Torse) [“The Doll” (“The Torso”)], 1935
vintage silver gelatin print overpainted with white gouache
16 3/8 x 16 12/0 in.
41.6 x 40.6 cm
Courtesy Ubu Gallery, New York 

Alexander Rodchenko Dive, 1935

Alexander Rodchenko
Dive, 1935
silver gelatin print
8 7/8 x 5 7/8 in.
22.5 x 14.9 cm

Yasi Alipour The (un)Raveling of a Thought, 2016

Yasi Alipour
The (un)Raveling of a Thought, 2016
blackboard with chalk
17 x 23 x 2 in.
43.2 x 58.4 x 5.1 cm
Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York 

Dan Graham Video Projection Outside Home, 1978-1998

Dan Graham
Video Projection Outside Home, 1978-1998
architectural model, painted wood and plastic
9 x 20 x 30 3/8 in.
22.9 x 50.8 x 77.2 cm
Courtesy Greene Naftali, New York 

Mona Hatoum + and -, 1994

Mona Hatoum
+ and -, 1994
hardwood, steel blades, electric motor and sand
12 1/4 x 12 14/0 x 5 1/2 in.
31.1 x 30.5 x 14 cm
Collection of Brett Gorvy & Amy Gold, New York 

Martha Wilson Beauty + Beastly, 1974 and 2009

Martha Wilson
Beauty + Beastly, 1974 and 2009
black and white photographs, text
17 x 23 1/2 ins.
43.2 x 59.7 cm

Louise Bourgeois Femme, 2005

Louise Bourgeois
Femme, 2005
bronze, silver nitrate patina
13 x 16 1/2 x 7 3/4 in.
33 x 41.9 x 19.7 cm
Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York 

Martha Rosler Invastion, 2008

Martha Rosler
Invastion, 2008
photomontage
30 x 53 3/8 in.
76.2 x 135.6 cm
Courtesy Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York 

Hugh Hayden Mortgage, 2017

Hugh Hayden
Mortgage, 2017
hand-carved Christmas trees and mirror on panel
48 x 96 x 36 in.
121.9 x 243.8 x 91.4 cm

David Wojnarowicz Untitled from Sex Series (for Marion Scemama) (train), 1988-89

David Wojnarowicz
Untitled from Sex Series (for Marion Scemama) (train), 1988-89
gelatin silver print
44.45 x 53.98 cm
17 1/2 x 21 1/4 in.

Carolee Schneemann Interior Scroll: The Cave, 1994

Carolee Schneemann
Interior Scroll: The Cave, 1994
signed and dated on face along the right edge
black and white photograph
10 x 8 ins.
25.4 x 20.3 cm

Jenny Holzer New Tilt, 2011

Jenny Holzer
New Tilt, 2011
vertical, tilted, double-sided LED sign with blue and red diodes on from and blue and green diodes on the back, stainless steel housing
111 1/2 x 6 x 3 5/8 in.
283.2 x 15.2 x 9.2 cm
Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York 

Installation Views

Installation Views Thumbnails
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World