Math Bass’s work encompasses painting, sculpture, video, and performance. She situates her production in an indeterminate zone where image, object, and language are fluid. In Crowd Rehearsal, a svelte, ladderlike sculpture draped with a coatlike painting is set against two canvases with nearly identical imagery. The title and forms suggest but do not show human bodies and actions. Does the title invite the viewer to take part in a performance? Or does it imply that this is only a run-through for something yet to come? Bass has opened up authorship to create a shared experience between artist and audience.
Bass grew up in a Jewish home, regularly attending temple, where ceremonies, rituals, and text influenced her predilection for the shrouding, pictographs, and repetition that infuse Crowd Rehearsal. Cloaked forms and empty spaces punctuate these works, imbuing them with a sense of contingency or incompleteness. This resistance to fixity is in tension with her hard-edged, graphic style.
The two paintings are part of a series begun in 2012. Each shares a title whose letters—N, E, W, and Z—can be rotated to form Z, W, M, and N. These small shifts turn a comprehensible word into a collection of random letters and highlight the instability and mutability of meaning.
Math Bass was born in New York in 1981 and lives and works in Los Angeles.