"Assimilation/Dissolution" follows a process of intensive creative dialogue between artists Jeffry Cudlin, Christopher Hoeting, and Jefferson Pinder. The project uses critical dialogue as a metaphor for the creation of community, place and identity.
Each artist began the project by creating one 2-D artwork exploring themes of urban decay and the shifting patchwork landscape of DC. Every fifteen days, the artists exchanged these pieces and crafted responses to one another’s efforts. The resulting paintings, videos, collages and combines follow a pattern of call and response, speaking to one another in a definite, escalating progression.
As the collaboration proceeded, threads running through all of the work became apparent. Techniques and approaches unique to one of the artists were often co-opted by the others. Loaded or charged imagery appeared here and there throughout the cycle—everything from unscrupulous real estate developers to Sambo images. Where such high-wattage icons were employed, they often deflected comment as much as they invited it—thus illustrating the difficulties of having a conversation not in words, but in images and objects. Sometimes the artists reconciled themselves with these images, re-contextualizing or re-imagining them. Other times they pushed aside their collaborator’s original intentions, burying symbols under accumulated layers of process.
The project culminated in a collaborative performance: With the help of video artist Jonathan Sears, the three mapped their relationships to the city through a series of overlapping site-specific actions. The exhibition at Flashpoint showcased all of the pieces created throughout the project, encouraging meditation on identity—of a place or neighborhood, as well as that of the individual artist—particularly in the face of transition.