Selected works by Ben Schumacher

Ben Schumacher
Undersea Cables, Reflected Ceiling Plans. With John Keenen


Boat, Shrinkwrap, chair, Ikea light in original packaging, cable management unit, cables, leather, bronze cable management brackets and vinyl

Boat: 182.9 x 701 x 213.4 cm, Overall Dimensions variable
Ben Schumacher


Singed cashmere and wool

127 x 86.4 cm


September 2013, Heinrike Klinger in conversation with Mr. Vector, Mousse Magazine

When I was approached to write the press text for this show I made some visits to the gallery where I met the man who the show was titled after. The self professed “Mr. Vector” is the mailman operating in the Berlin Mitte district. An eccentric quick paced man in his early 40’s who is extremely excited about art and often lingers for some short seconds in the galleries that he delivers to e.g. Croy Nielsen, BQ, Nagel & Draxler, and Galerie Kamm. He sees the shows at least 30 times before they come down.
HK: What do you think of the floors in this exhibition?
Mr. V: I appreciate the ergonomic qualities, some relief from the impact on the shins all day of walking on asphalt and concrete plus just months ago I was coming home to a concrete environment. It starts to wear on your knees and back. It reminds me of the first morning waking up in my new apartment in Wedding. As I was getting out of bed the warmth of the hardwood floors surprised me, my old concrete floors stood their ground like a frontiersman but here, the space between my foot and the wood floors seemed to react, and I thought this was communication, my foot was not speaking to the floor nor was the floor aiding my foot but it was the space in between that reacted in all directions.
HK: So you see the floor as a sort of systems that reacts to irritations?
Mr. V: Yes the other day I was dropping off a box with an artwork in it…
HK: whose was it?
Mr. V: I think Marlie, you know those black puddles that were in here last spring, anyway I dropped the box on the cardboard and left this big dent in the cardboard, you can see it right over there.
HK: So if you become part of the system there is no difference between the objects of observation and the observer.
Mr. V: I am very much into surveillance. Not just of citizens I come in contact with daily but also of my circle of friends. When I was younger I would get jealous often and try to emulate others.
HK: Isn’t that everyone though?
Mr. V: My case was quite extreme, For example I was into (car) racing and I produced a very complex set of cards that could be reshuffled and arranged in order to make sense of the endeavors of my peers. Trying to track their races, careers, wins and losses. I would take into account the number of elements, the number of admissible relations, sometimes even the differing qualities of the elements and the temporal difference in putting the elements in relation with each other. This way of balancing made sense to me, as I was a diabetic since an early age, always trying to keep my blood sugar levels at a constant.
HK: woah that is intense. Did you know that he (Ben) is related to Schumie?
Mr.V: He told me that, I don’t believe it, he can’t even speak German.
HK: Why do you think Mr. Schumacher titled the show after you?
Mr. V: I don’t know it seems retarded. I think maybe it’s not so much about me but the space that my position occupies. Or my perspective: that I am an observer of these things (art in galleries) but I am also part of a system of communication with certain institutional arrangements, certain value preferences, a system that depends on society and vice versa.
HK: yeah all of these payphone images in the show remind me of this. They come from the backs of 2600 magazine the hacker quarterly, they are payphones from around the world referencing the lost art of phone phreaking. I see the hacker as the external observer. We know that we exist socially, that we live in a particular era, earn salaries, have expectations of retirement. So the hacker operates within the system and exploits weaknesses and insecurities.


2013, by Paul Soto, Interview Magazine

27-year-old artist Ben Schumacher opened this year with "Register of Documents, 1974—," his breakout show at New York's James Fuentes gallery. The artist displayed perforated vinyl images taken from the anti-Soviet Czech magazine Vokno, printed on plate glass and steel sculptures, resembling excised segments of a Mies van der Rohe façade. "Plate glass was developed for greenhouses originally. People would collect samples of exotic plants from all over the world to place in these big glass boxes," said Schumacher. "It's strange that when it reached its technological height, plate glass began to be used for office towers."

That the Canadian-born artist comes from Kitchener—a rural town recently made famous by the boom and bust of Blackberry creator Research in Motion, which led a short-lived tech industry boom in the area—should point to his fascination with technological dislocation. Schumacher first experienced art through magazines and online photographs. The success of artist-run galleries operating outside of New York and Los Angeles inspired his collaborations with Kitchener artists, where he has organized shows in office spaces between leases. Though impermanent and remotely installed, the shows have garnered attention online. "They manage to successfully channel their message almost solely through pictures," he says. Over the past years, he's created painted cement works on canvas including King of the Fruits(2011) and Bevel A (2011), and a mesh panel hung cheekily atop a taut durian fruit.


31st December 2012, by David Markus, Art in America

Near the entrance to Ben Schumacher's recent show at Bortolami, "D S + R and the bar at the Orangerie," visitors encountered a large 3-D printer and a somewhat forlorn-looking 9-by-12-inch canvas containing figure sketches against a watercolor ground. If this was a nod to what Claire Bishop has referred to as the "digital divide" between contemporary art practices that self-consciously employ new media and those rooted in more traditional approaches, then the rest of the exhibition seemed aimed at collapsing this distinction.

The "D S + R" of the show's title refers to the architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, which participated in the exhibition, deploying a member of its design team to work from a desk situated in the center of the gallery throughout the show's run. (The work space was vacant when this viewer was there.) On the desk was a motley assortment of printouts, glue tubes and parts of architectural models, along with the requisite array of office technology. Such material diversity is typical of Schumacher's practice, which might be summed up as digital-era bricolage. Among the seemingly incongruous materials used by the artist are Internet-sourced photographic images, readymade industrial items, marble slabs, pieces of vinyl, textual fragments, objects made on 3-D printers, video screens and hair harvested from the artist's shower drain. These materials and many more were integrated into an installation of sculptural and wall-hanging works that, taken together, present a vision of the analog and ordinary acceding to the digital.

Schumacher uses the orangeri—a type of greenhouse for conserving exotic and nonnative vegetation—as a metaphor for the Internet and its immediate access to information from around the world. Works included in the exhibition evinced a particular preoccupation with language systems and the unimpeded flow of energy and information. A number of freestanding, partitionlike, two-sided glass sculptures showcase portions of text from online discussions carried out in Esperanto and other auxiliary languages constructed to serve as universal modes of communication. On the other side of one such work, Maxwell's Demon Returning a Gift in Much Degraded Form(2013), Schumacher has reproduced a drawing of the fictional entity postulated in James Clerk Maxwell's famous entropy-defying thought experiment in thermodynamics. Electrical cords strung through holes in the glass sculptures and snaking throughout the gallery gave the impression that these works constituted a single, multipart installation—a microcosm of wired civilization in its increasingly global dimension.