Since the late 1960s, John Knight has worked in exacting response to the terms of a given site, guided by a set of social and spatial concerns that
make him a touchstone for generations of artists. Knight studied as an architect and has long been attuned to the ideologies of the built environment,
a quality which surfaces with uncommon clarity in his third solo show at Greene Naftali. The exhibition debuts a new work that hinges on a single
gesture of displacement, relocating the gallery’s lighting track from its place on the ceiling down to the floor.
This act of overturning centers what is typically overlooked. Here, Knight lends new urgency to a Conceptual project with a blatant wrongness fitting for our times. Brought low and relieved of their primary task as unnoticed signifiers of taste, the inverted lights now display nothing but ambience itself as a distinct product of the gallery enterprise. Knight’s attention to art-world infrastructure is also a means to look beyond it, and into everyday life. The work alludes to a plurality of consequences brought upon by artificial light: from its transformative role in industrial capitalism, extending shift work past solar or seasonal bounds, to its current use in urban policing, weaponizing its invasive glare. An agent of illumination as well as surveillance, observation, and exposure, electric lighting distills the fraught mechanics of visibility.
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