Catharine Czudej is a New York-based sculptor from South Africa, who grew up in Wisconsin, under the influence of internet communities and American masculinity. In their intersection, she finds forms for her sculptures. Czudej responds with humor to the alienation of consumers from their needs and wants. Ball Polisher, 2017 and Scratch, 2021 were made according to DIY lessons found on Youtube and Reddit forums. Ball Polisher is a means to save money polishing one’s pool table accessories, and Scratch is a collection of bismuth paintings inspired by the competition festering on Reddit for the largest bismuth crystals. Czudej applies the self-reliance of traditional masculinity into arduously-made sculptures, inspired by the determined loners seeking productivity beyond the market.
In 2015, Czudej painted a series of monochrome pulp-fiction paintings under plexiglass for Belly-up Dead. Illuminated only by visitor’s cellphones, in a cavernous room. Czudej layered the canonical masculinity of minimalism’s monochromatic painting that resists objectification with the utilitarian heroism of advertisement. Her show, SHHHHH, 2016 included a series of very art-historically influenced iron sculptures, twisted with fists and sometimes, as in Smash 3, Hulk’s fists.
Czudej’s work is labor intensive in its production and disintegration, as evident in her Soap Painting’s, 2016 and Whiteboard, 2019 paintings. Her show Imagine All the People, 2019 welcomed visitors with a clip-art crowd; shared images applied to professional presentations. They applaud amidst piles of phonebooks listing their names and numbers. Now tellecallers hoard this information; purchased as internet cookies. Two animatronic robots, from her Fall-Down series (2018-) hold hands in unplugged stillness. Much of her work results from isolation, and inspires humor through resonation. Waterworks (2019) is a chain of stacked buckets exchanging fluids through open-mouthed masks and anthropomorphic objects like shoes and gestures. Czudej recognizes an obsession with productivity. Work as an obsessive, escapist act that turns energy into an asset; its expenditure, both mentally and physically signals wealth. Czudej presents the sterility of inter-personal engagements as both overworked and without memory.
In 2020, Czudej showed HOMEOWNER at von ammon co. Czudej constructed an inflatable bouncy castle from New York City billboards, with accompanying velcro jumpsuits. Hundreds of phone books gathered around resin molds of flat-screen televisions and corporate whiteboards. These fabrications inverted signifiers of utility and entertainment. Czudej’s sculptures form lines between masculinity’s self-reliance and a dependence on the market; production and consumption; labor and contemplation.
Waterworks, Michael Benevento, Los Angeles, CA, 2019
Not books, Ginerva Gambino, Cologne, DE, 2018
SHHHHH, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, DE, 2016
NO SOAP RADIO, Peephole, Milan, IT 2015
Belly-up Dead, Chewday's, London, UK, 2015
Lamps with generator, in Rum, Sodomy, and the lash at Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin, DE 2015