Deborah Zlotsky (Associate Professor, Experimental and Foundation Studies) is the curator of a new group exhibition, STACK, at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts (529 W. 20th Street, New York). The exhibition opens on 11th May and runs through 17th June 2017.
The word “stack” has many meanings, like voluptuousness (stacked), worthiness (stack up), and exploding in anger (blow your stack). With today’s political divisions, the connotations lead quickly to “stacked against,” using power in a partisan way to force someone to do something or to tip the scales in favor of one side. We say: “The deck is stacked against me.” “The odds are stacked against you.” “The numbers are stacked against us.” Yet a position of insight and resistance can be reached by knowing how things are stacked up.
Stacking, as a provisional and daily tool, creates order, minimizes sprawl, gives us agency and authority. It provides us with a feeling of empowerment, especially in the 24/7 overload of emails, tweets, documents, and information.
Some stacks are made of similar things, like firewood or books. Others are collections of disparate bits in an uneasy whole. Stacks can dissolve edges, even while retaining the distinct qualities of individual elements. Ultimately, the hybridity of a stack adds up to something quite new, with its own character and signature complexity. For stack-makers, the act of placing one thing on top of another affords the pleasure of processing, inventorying, and gaining control. Sometimes stacking is merely an ordinary or neutral act, but other times, the more that’s piled, the greater the sense of release and ease. A new stack frees up space, and allows for a clearer understanding of what had been scattered and building up over time.