Liz Ensz: NO GRIDS NO MASTERS: a Post-Cartesian Experiment

On View: March 30 - May 26, 2024

Chairmen’s Gallery

NO GRIDS NO MASTERS: a Post-Cartesian Experiment is an exploration and contestation of the grid and the structured set of worldviews that are embedded in it. Incorporating digital and traditional weaving, sculpture, found objects, and transformed cast materials, this mutable installation reflects artist Liz Ensz’s embrace of the logic of textile assembly and intense engagement with material.

The Cartesian coordinate system draped the Earth in a grid, as Cartesian philosophies laid the foundation for the transformation of places into objects. From advanced mathematics to the navigation and surveying of land, to the accounting spreadsheet, the grid is linked to the development of systems that support modern economic life. Although it predates Descartes by thousands of years, through this thinking, the loom can be seen as a logic machine, capable of the reproduction of the grid in the form of woven cloth.

The loom has been entangled with the technological development of the modern world. Its mechanization was a flashpoint in the process of industrialization, and its efficiency has clothed the world in cheap cloth. The binary system of lifting warp threads in woven structure is a precursor to the workings of the modern computer. But the loom and weaving also act as a connection to humanity’s pre-industrial and pre-colonial material culture and to the generations of skilled makers whose embodied knowledge created something out of nothing with little more than a simple machine and their own skilled hands.

Ensz sees this complex history reflected in the physical contradictions of woven cloth. While the loom speaks in grids, the cloth it creates challenges the grid’s rigidity as it “softens, drapes, and accommodates to any surrounding disorder.” As the artist further explains:  “I am interested in the possibility of the production of hand-woven cloth to represent an intersection of all of these histories, a machine that is capable of both obeying and breaking the rules.”

Liz Ensz: NO GRIDS NO MASTERS: a Post-Cartesian Experiment takes place as part of MoCA Arlington’s SOLOS 23-24, a series of solo exhibitions by artists based in the Mid-Atlantic taking place at the Museum throughout 2023 and 2024. The exhibitions were selected from an open call by a jury that included artist Nekisha Durrett, Betsy Johnson, assistant curator, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and Jova Lynne, director, Temple Contemporary, Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Temple University.

Liz Ensz
b. 1983, Minnesota
Lives and works in Baltimore, MD

Liz Ensz was born in Minnesota to a resourceful family of penny-savers, metal scrappers, and curators of cast-offs. Liz received a BFA in Fiber from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and an MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Ensz has exhibited their work internationally, including at The Henry Moore Institute (Leeds, UK), Frontviews Gallery (Berlin, Germany), Franconia Sculpture Park (Shafer, MN), Roots and Culture Contemporary Art Center (Chicago, IL), Boston Center for the Arts (Boston, MA), The Mission (Chicago, IL), Current Space (Baltimore, MD), and Goucher College (Baltimore, MD). Their work has been supported by The John Michael Kohler Arts/Industry Program in Foundry (Sheboygan, WI), Franconia Sculpture Park (Shafer, MN), Hyde Park Art Center (Chicago, IL), LATITUDE (Chicago, IL), Blue Mountain Center (Blue Mountain Lake, NY), City of Chicago DCASE Individual Artist Grant, Faculty Grants from The Maryland Institute College of Art, and The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Travel Fellowship.

Art After Hours
Saturday / April 6 / 5pm-8pm

Performances by Isa Leal & Liz Ensz + Skye Fort
in conversation with NO GRIDS NO MASTERS
Saturday / April 20 / 6pm-8pm

Performances by Orlando Johnson & Matthew Williams
in conversation with NO GRIDS NO MASTERS
Saturday / May 11 / 6pm-8pm

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In Conversation: Nekisha Durrett + Zaq Landsberg

Saturday / April 27 / 1pm-3pm

Innovation Studio + Store

Join artists Zaq Landsberg and Nekisha Durrett for a conversation about the rewards and challenges of public art and the complex nature of monuments and memorials.

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Solace and Sisterhood

February 22 - May 26, 2024

Meyer & Smith Galleries
Solace and Sisterhood brings together the work of Lavett Ballard, Amber Robles-Gordon, and Evita Tezeno.