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Richard Tuttle & Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

Hello, the Roses

September 5–25, 2015

At ‘T’ Space, we will attempt to foreground the architecture, making it a true and equal collaborator.

— Richard Tuttle, 2015

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‘T’ Space is honored to exhibit Hello, the Roses, a collaboration between artist Richard Tuttle and poet Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, from whose poem the exhibit takes its title.

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, the 2015 recipient of the 3rd Annual ‘T’ Space Poetry Award, read her work at the opening reception of Hello, the Roses.

Tuttle constructs his pieces from wire, paint, paper, wooden planks, string, expanding foam—the stuff of everyday building and, it is tempting to add, of the repair jobs that our built environments constantly require. Intermingling his materials in configurations that feel at once fresh and intuitively right, Tuttle evokes not just our world but the powers of improvisation and adaptability that we deploy in our on-going efforts to make our world livable.

Responding to the immediacies of a site, Tuttle’s forms usher the viewer’s imagination into real time and real space. The poetry of his wife Mei-mei Berssenbrugge—the recipient of this year’s ‘T’ Space Poetry Award—amplifies that responsiveness with imagery that opens onto the dimension of reflective awareness. For Berssenbrugge, the present is not a fleeting moment but an expansive zone that brings perceiver and perceived, the world and its inhabitants, into a luminous, rejuvenating harmony. In a catalog statement, Tuttle recalls their collaboration at Munich’s Kunstverein, in 2012, in which he made a series of sculptures in response to Bersenbrugge’s book of poems entitled Hello, the Roses. These are the works he showed at ‘T’ Space, constructions at once delicate and sturdy that a young visitor to the earlier exhibition described as “nets to catch poems.”

— Carter Ratcliff, 2015

Welcoming Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s poetry together with Richard Tuttle’s artworks at ‘T’ Space brings back fond memories of our collaboration from 1999. When Mei-mei and Richard asked me to design the guesthouse for their property in Abiquiú, New Mexico, I accepted a 13.7 x 40.6 x 13.7 cm. sculpture, Bar, in lieu of the design fee.

The concept for their guesthouse, the Turbulence House, emerged from imagining its architecture as the tip of an iceberg indicating a much larger
form below. A void in the structure’s center allows turbulent wind to blow through the house, merging architecture and site.

As the Turbulence House’s form emerged, our friend Kiki Smith called it a “brooch pinned to the mesa.” For me, as a collaboration with Richard and Mei-mei, the little house exists in the blurry territory between art and architecture. In some ways, it is like a fragment from Francis Ponge’s 1942 poem Escargots:

Unlike embers that are the host of hot ashes, snails love the damp
earth. … they advance glued to it with their whole bodies. They
carry it with them, they eat it, they excrete it. It goes through.
They go through it.

— Steven Holl, 2015

Richard Tuttle’s sculptures and Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s poetry would have seemed very much at home at Black Mountain where the “campus” was hardly the hallowed halls of ivy but rather the simple countryside of rural North Carolina. This show is a happy occasion for me to get to know Berssenbrugge’s poetry. Like Tuttle’s constructions, her poetry is about surprise and encounter, freshness and direct, unmediated experience. I find her poetry as engaging and direct as Tuttle’s constructions that I saw for the first time in 1965 at Betty Parsons’ gallery. I did not know the artist or that he was 24 years old, but I loved the work and included his fragile paper boxes in my by now notorious article on minimal (lower case) art. I thought they were wonderful. I realize critics are not allowed to use the word wonderful because it is so corny and ordinary. But ordinary, unpretentious and unheroic were a large part of the aesthetic of the artists who interested me.

— Barbara Rose, 2015

Accompanying Events

Exhibition Catalogue

Richard Tuttle and Mei-mei Berssenbrugge: Hello, the Roses

2015

An exhibition catalog featuring the collaboration between poetry by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and sculptures by Richard Tuttle.

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