Outstanding Balance

Friday August 10th, 2018

With Outstanding Balance, Jeffrey Michael Austin presents a new body of sculptural works that offer playful and poetic lenses through which to meditate on the philosophical paradox of desire for private gain in an inexplicable, omnipresent universe; capitalism in the cosmos. How do we measure the value of individual profit on the scale of cosmological time and space? How do we cultivate equanimity amidst a plague of fear and isolation? How do we recognize likeness within a social and political culture defined by its polarity? 

"We are accustomed to figuring out how to flip relationships into more profitable opportunities. Social capital turn our personalities into currency. When is our existence not run through a monetized filter? To learn, to dwell, to heal are valued at their proof of purchase, but what comes of life when supposed given rights are no longer affordable?  For many of us, this is an abusive relationship we cannot leave. The spoils of choice are fueled by aspirational transactions.

The irony of personal debt is buying-in to render debt imperceptible.  Image supplants the reality of a perilous situation. The ironies don't stop there.  Maybe a precarious life of rich experiences is more interesting than what a job title and salary are supposed to deliver.  Technology allows us to be better connected remotely than we are by proximity. This is fast improving (or worsening), but at what costs that are not numerical?  In what ways are we indebted to each other? With whom and where do we live when our time is no longer livable? When is overdue truly too late? How tender is an embrace through a spacesuit?"
-- Lyndon Barrois Jr.

Jeffrey Michael Austin is an interdisciplinary artist and musician based in Chicago. Through a variety of sculptural and installation processes, Austin composes situations characterized by instability, impermanence and illusion -- inviting from their visitors a sense of empathy, mindfulness and openness to the unknown. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, with recent solo-exhibitions at Bert Green Fine Art, The Luminary (St. Louis, MO) and Chicago Artists Coalition and with group exhibitions in such venues as Société d'Électricité (Brussels), DEMO Project, Hyde Park Art Center, Ed Paschke Art Center, Le Carreau de Cergy (Paris), Kunstenfestival Watou (Belgium), The University of North Texas Art Galleries, Lehr Zeitgenössische Kunst (Berlin), The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Fondation Vasarely (Aix-en-Provence), Terrain Exhibitions, The Franklin, and Manifold in partnership with ACRE Artist Residency.

Austin studied at Columbia College Chicago and the Burren College of Art in Ireland before eventually receiving his BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Austin also produces music under the moniker Young Elder and as one third of the Growing Concerns Poetry Collective.

This exhibition is made possible with support from the Luminarts Cultural Foundation and the Montello Foundation.