Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dan Wasser: Planet Rock @ As If

AS IF Gallery is pleased to announce as the inaugural exhibition of its new gallery in Harlem, the first one-person show in NYC by artist Daniel Amazu Wasser. In "Planet Rock", a series of over 40 vibrant collage works, Wasser pays homage to both the Grand Masters of Hip Hop who were the cultural heroes of his youth, as well as to his ancestral and artistic forebearers in the traditional African arts. In so doing he narrates some of the giant societal steps along the way – a journey of survival, uprising and ongoing struggle.
Wasser explains: "Racism, its practices and history, needs to be recalled despite how much progress we have made. We need to keep the dialogue going, keep talking until all the chains are gone!" When Hip Hop surfaced in New York, it gave us something that our generation was craving, and we couldn't get enough of it. It was a combination of rhyme and reason. It gave us a voice, gave us a purpose to be imaginative rather than submit to the mindless meanderings in life. It enabled us to master our own destinies, our crafts, whether making graffiti, rhyming, DJing or breaking. That was a time that awakened me!"
Identity and advocacy are crucial elements of early Rap and Hip Hop. We see the same basic promotional principles at work in Wasser's lyrical imagery. Like collagist Kurt Schwitters, whose prototypical vocal performances were strangely connected to the hypothesis of Rap, Wasser remixes musical and art histories with the fluidity and speed of the DJ or trickster. Pop principles of repetition and multiplication are at play in his "Planet Rock" collages. We witness the evolution from "I AM A MAN" to the individualistic calligraphies of the masters of the New York graffiti underground. Are Wasser's characters, awash in 'bling', any different from the ostentation of the Ziegfield Follies or the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers? They take on the guise of the urban ghetto to effect both a panacea and an escape from institutionalized racism. The emergence of Hip Hop and graffiti was more likely to have reduced crime in New York in the 80s and 90s than Rudolph Giulliani's addition of police to our city's streets. The viral cultures of graffiti and Hip Hop created identity and brought power to the powerless. It became cooler to rap about gangsterism than to do it.
Daniel Amazu Wasser was born in 1971 in Maine and grew up in Norwalk, CT, before moving to New Haven to teach elementary school in the inner city. He has taken part in a number of exhibitions in his home city.
AS IF Gallery is a collaboration between Nicole Rauscher, fabric designer, Seth Tillett, scenographer and artist, and Diego Cortez curator. The gallery is dedicated to their friend Sylvère Lotringer, Editor of Semiotext(e) and the Semiotext(e) Foreign Agents Series.

For further information please contact Nicole Rauscher

+1 646 338 2140 or

Gallery Hours by appointment only: Wednesday - Saturday, 12 noon to 6 pm