October 10, 2013 - February 9, 2014
The Morris-Jumel Mansion and The Historic House Trust of New York City are pleased to present Unpacked, an exhibition of recent work by New York-based artist Peter Hoffmeister. Hoffmeister’s work uses a variety of sources, including historical text, maps, architecture, and found imagery, to create paintings, drawings, prints and sculptural installations. For this exhibition, the artist views the Mansion as an artifact symbolizing the founding of the United States, having served as George Washington’s headquarters at the start of the Revolutionary War. Using this fact as a departure point, Hoffmeister has created site-specific installations in the Mansion’s period rooms, informed by the history of the Mansion and its inhabitants, as well as American history and current events.
Hoffmeister’s artworks challenge various societal phenomena and ideologies, both historical and current. Home-style, installed in the Mansion’s Dining Room, addresses the status of our food supply and the prevalence of genetically modified crops, by using corporate food logos to create dilapidated wallpaper. The piece becomes particularly compelling when considering George Washington, as president, hosted a dinner with his presidential cabinet at the Mansion. Ball and Chain (Per Capita), composed of the silhouettes of all fifty US States, are placed across the floor of the Mansion’s Front Parlor Room, in a sense becoming the carpet. Made of black felt, each state is sized relative to its per capita prison population rate—the United States has the highest per capita prison population rate of any other country in the world. For the upper level of the Mansion, Hoffmeister continues his installations by manipulating roadmaps, as well as found text and projected photographic slides, to investigate the construction of history and national memory. Collectively, Hoffmeister’s artworks are a meditation on our existence as individuals and citizens living within the American empire.