Photo credit: Elena Levy, Triangle Arts Association

Syntagma; painting as event.
MARLEY FREEMAN // associative reading

Tuesday December 2nd 2015
6pm - until..
Triangle Arts Association, 20 Jay Street, Brooklyn

Painting is a manner of palimpsest, a battering of layers towards clarity- ‘object-ness.’ Brush as arbiter of form. My goals are in process. They devolve into a spirit of play and love of work. --- Marley Freeman.

Drawing on a history with textiles, Freeman's work is a marginal type of abstraction born of a desire and pursuit of a new image. The first event of a six-month research project, Syntagma: painting as event, was an associative reading exercise with artist Marley Freeman moderated by Natasha Marie Llorens. Freeman hung a series of paintings on the wall, rotating them between positions until an order had settled. The audience was asked to participate in the hanging through discussion and also very literally. The movement of paintings opened discussion among those present, but the hang was also responsive to textual fragments from theorists, novels, dream narratives read out loud by Llorens and others.

This was not an attempt to narrativize Freeman's work; there was no story there at Triangle. Rather, language was used as one way to produce a form of collective attention to the act of looking at, between, and among the collection of marks.


A syntagma is an event within a larger narrative structure—a phenome, a word, a phrase, or a sentence. Syntagmata are studied in order to understand the process of language acquisition.

The curator is embarrassed by her lack of fluency, by her inattention to the tacit rules that govern painting as a medium, by her hasty evaluation of anachronism. It is better to ask, critically: how to discuss contemporary painting that is not simply marketable surface, ideal objet d’art, or macho-romantic art-dream made concrete? How is the language of painting acquired, performed, enacted as phenome or sentence within contemporary art’s narrative?

The painter hangs their work on the wall in the curator's shared office/studio space at Triangle Arts Association; they compose a collection of images to be lived with and discussed.

Two kinds of syntagmatic events were proposed here: the durational experience of the curator with painting, day in, day out, and the performative experience of making the work’s logic public, somehow, for an evening.

A series of open-to-the-public hangings and interpretive events was originally planned to take place at Triangle every month from January 2014–May 2015 as part of Llorens' curatorial residency; this event was the only instance of Syntagma to take place at Triangle. The exhibition Syntagma, with the students of the Practicing Curating course at Eugene Lang held in Spring 2016, and the forthcoming exhibition We The Watchers Are Bodies at Hercules Art Studio Program, are both evolutions of this project.