Catharine Czudej

Waiting for Jimmy Hoffa (P12)

Catharine Czudej, Smash 3, 2015, Iron, 52 x 95 x 52 cm.

Catharine Czudej, Smash 3, 2015 (detail), Iron, 52 x 95 x 52 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Office Baroque. Photo: Laura Fantacuzzi

Incorporating a range of media including sculpture, kinetic objects, painting, video, and installation, Catharine Czudej disrupts the hierarchies that underscore the economies of cultural production and reception. Adopting her characteristically humorous and absurd approach, Czudej’s new sculpture, Waiting for Jimmy Hoffa (2019), reflects the artist’s interest in labor, power dynamics, and moral structures. A cartoon working class hero of a man stands on the corner of a seemingly non-descript building with the Upper East Side across from him and the Financial District behind him. The California sun beats down, he clutches his suspenders to rest his arms while he waits. Inspired by a children’s toy made in China, Czudej deepens the absurdity by inserting the cartoonish representation of the archetypal American Teamster into a fake New York. An American labor union leader who served as the President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from 1957 until 1971, Hoffa famously vanished in late July 1975, leaving the union in disarray. His disappearance has been linked to his conflicting relationship with the U.S. Government and the mob. This blown-up portrayal of a working man situated, like a game piece inside of an ever-changing portrait of New York City, becomes a placeholder, an idea of man from a time in American that maybe never was.

Catharine Czudej (b. 1985, Johannesburg, South Africa) lives and works in New York. Solo exhibitions of Czudej’s work have been presented at Ginerva Gambino, Cologne (2018); Jeffrey Stark, New York (2017); Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (2016); Office Baroque, Brussels (2016; 2014); Chewday’s, London; Peep-Hole, Milan (both 2015); and Ramiken Crucible, New York (2013). Her work has been included in group exhibitions including Pine Barrens, Tanya Bonakdar, New York (2018); Das Verflixte 7. Jahr, Fuurstenberg Zeitgenössisch, Donaueschingen, Germany (2018); The Commodification of Love, kamel mennour, Paris (2017); Concrete Island, Venus Over Manhattan, Los Angeles (2017); Inside Out, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zürich (2016); and Chat Jet, Künstlerhaus, Graz, Austria.

Commissioned by Frieze Projects. Presented with Office Baroque, Brussels