“The Price of Things” at Pierogi

Exhibition Dates: 17 February–18 March, 2023
Wed–Sat, 11am–6pm and by appointment

Sermin Kardesuncer - "Caruso's Stand"







Dawn Clements
Jane Fine
Jonathan Herder
Sermin Kardestuncer
Ward Shelley


Press Release

Artists, as most people, have long been acutely attuned to money and the price of things in their personal lives. Artists also experience this issue in their dealings with galleries, auction houses, and collectors, often attempting to disengage their practice and work itself from its price and “the market”—no small feat when that is the current metric of success often perceived by others. The commodification of everything plays a major role in daily life. The irony does not escape us that art depicting the price of things is also for sale. The artists included in this exhibition take on this issue from the personal to the societal, from micro to macro. They use found price signs, create intimate drawings of such signs and proposals for “new money,” and chart a macro overview examining the development and state of our advanced consumer culture. Ultimately, the price of things often does not reflect the real cost of things.

Pierogi is pleased to present this exhibition which will run from 17 February through 20 March 2023 with an opening reception Friday, 24 February from 6 to 9pm.

Sermin Kardestuncer created “Caruso’s Stand” in 1994. Beginning in 1982 Kardestuncer frequented Caruso’s, a small fruit and vegetable market on Mott Street near her apartment in lower Manhattan. She got to know Joe Di Palo and others who worked there. By the late 1980s / early 90s the Caruso brothers lost their lease and their stand closed. “Kardestuncer’s sympathy for something lost forever is played out through the long length of time it takes to sew thread into remnants of Caruso’s fruit stand’s wooden price signs. The part of the sign she sews into…is not the top half that displays the old prices, but the lower half, the part that inserts into the fruit and vegetables, the part that connects us with the food chain, with traditions and tragedy and so (sew) on…” (Helen Varola)

Dawn Clements was also drawn to the hand written price signs displayed in the sidewalk markets of her Greenpoint Brooklyn neighborhood. She often included them in her diaristic works on paper, peppering her panoramic dioramas and still lifes with drawings of 99¢ and 79¢ signs she’d accumulated. These are low prices for cost conscious shoppers of everyday necessities like food. In several of these still life drawings the same “99¢ only” sign is delicately drawn in ball point pen, matter of factly placed next to a daily to do list, used hospital wristbands, and re-drawn train travel receipts.

“As for the artist’s encyclopedic drawings of her immediate surroundings, they trade on the traditional fictions of still life in the way that disjunctive local spaces and times are fused under a continuous skin of illusion.” (David Brody)

Jonathan Herder’s bank note drawings represent the artist’s attempt to issue a series of what he calls “New Money.” These bills offer a range of apprehensions: from consumerist advocacy to capitalistic inevitability. A boundary between the marketplace and the individual can prove elusive, as these sometimes ethically conflicted bank notes attest. “Big Bill” offers notes-to-self and advice on “how to save / lower expenses,” how to “know your money,” and a coupon to save 50¢.

Jane Fine’s paintings are rooted in the language of abstraction, complicated and contaminated by a buffet of signs and symbols: flowers, rainbows, tape, patches, flags. “During the last … years, it seemed that every bit of news was a reminder that we had to resist distraction and follow the money. With that, the dollar sign crept up in painting after painting.” Her slyly suggestive titles, such as “Foreign Influences,” “Trickle Down,” and “Price Line,” for paintings populated with dollar signs suggest that money and the price of things similarly appear in our lives with all the anxiety or comfort they may bring.

Ward Shelley’s “Work, Spend, Forget (Dissected Frog Polemic)”—originally commissioned by the Tang Museum for their exhibition titled “Classless Society”—diagrams the 20th Century shift from production-oriented capitalism to consumption-oriented capitalism, including the first consumer boom, to the commodification of nearly everything, even identities. Shelley dissects relationships between social, societal, and historical movements to examine the development and current state of our advanced consumer culture. In this work he riffs on the imagery of a frog dissection, depicting twisting organic shapes documenting this history.