scott lyall

An Immigrant Affection

September 21 — October 24, 2010



An Immigrant Affection is a kind of self-relationship in which the sender and the receiver, counted together, add

to 3. The Immigrant introduces an im-migrant, fixed element along with another that is devoted to (or even wills) its own displacement. But there is always a third term, a migrant affect which is established before the gaze of representations in which the ‘visible I is photo-graphed.’ It is as if there were an Interior that only appears from the Outside. When the Immigrant first appears, in the relief before the monitor, there is an excess auto-affection that seems to scumble beyond the light. Something intervenes where the self, itself, affixes itself. There is always something touching, something moving, but out of hand…

The exhibition features a set of 8 unique printouts in which pale colors derive from mathematical interpolations. In all cases, color begins in a matrix of information. But in one group of works, it goes directly to a printer where it is mixed on a fabric substrate in 3 successive passes. Nowhere in this procedure is there a reified screen image. What can be said to be at stake, rather, is the movement from pure quantity to the output of the printer without the mediation of design, something akin to the Fauvist dream of liberating color from the received image in order to assert its immediacy in becoming.


1 + 1 = 3: between the two parts of a struggle, along an impasse, there is affection; there is a stranger’s indifferent desire.


“I wasn’t drawing figures that look to me like they might be immigrants,” says Scott Lyall. “The point is that abstraction, which never looks quite like itself, is always lacking (decorative, senseless) while also seeming to be ‘too much.’ It is the hand-maiden of emptiness as well as the herald of excesses. And it is always the seeming-lacking that charges the feeling or presentiment – the vague expression of a judgment – that somehow, threateningly, there is too much. Too elitist; too communist; too nice for the homosexuals; too masculine; too Jewish; too repressive or too repressed! Doesn’t this crooked pathway of suspicions and avoidances bespeak a passage in the terrain that we presume to call the unconscious? And is ‘abstraction,’ then, a name for little traces of migrant affect, the little crises of self-affection that mark the artwork’s speculative cause?”

There will be pictures and partial objects, planes of color, lines and edges, shapes in space, and sets of relations between the artworks and their audience. But affection is represented not by these elements brought together, not by images, but by the anadhesive third that somehow binds them. Think of Barnett Newman: the slip of tape announcing Onement is like a screen, a measure of distance between the present and one’s demise. An adhesive binds the immigrant to a populace of affections. In this sense, the immigrant’s lineage is a generic work of art.