Portraits may be traditionally interpreted as studies of human subjects, but not for New York artist Jonathan Berger. His new show entitled A Future Life, which opens at Adams and Ollman this week, comprises four “elementary” objects placed on pedestals made of charcoal blocks. In fact, there are charcoal blocks everywhere: if you see this show, you’ll be walking on them, physically interacting with the art. It is, in the artist’s own words, “a continuous landscape.”

“I just got really interested in how a viewer can relate to an object as a living thing, a being, when there’s empathy,” Berger explains. “You can empathize with an object that mirrors the experience of a person.”

Berger’s installation is deceptively simple, and surprisingly, he compares it to a pop song. “It’s all about the way the band tells the story, even if it’s the simplest love story,” he says. “It’s a non-linear, broken-up narrative.” In the case of his show, it’s a narrative intended to “put people in very specific emotional spaces.”

A Future Life opens at Adams and Ollman on Feb 12 and runs through March 12. He gives a free lecture for PNCA’s MFA in Visual Studies visiting artist series at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Thursday, Feb 11, at 6:30 pm.

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