March 3 - April 9, 2022

168 Suffolk Street, New York, NY 10002


AWAKE AWAKE ASLEEP is a presentation of Alex Stern’s multimedia works on New England Journals of Medicine encased in resin. This is Stern’s first solo exhibition in New York City, following his recent sold-out show with Tase Gallery in Los Angeles. AWAKE AWAKE ASLEEP presents a selection of Stern’s provocative works arranged in a clean, sterile presentation, highlighting the tension between the desire to control one’s environment and one’s emotional state with the ungovernable realities of life.

Stern is interested in ideas of sickness, symptom, and diagnosis; and the use of the New England Journal of Medicine is apt for the artist, who grew up in the Boston area. Stern is interested in American behavior. He is both critical of, and has reverence for, the scientific process and the assumptions that regulate it. His experience of the medical industry is also partially informed by his mother’s practice as a doctor.

Stern’s pieces combine found elements, collage, painting and exist in the space between a two-dimensional painting and a three-dimensional art object. They are flat pieces intended to hang on a wall, however, Stern has created a strong sense of materiality through his assemblage approach to the work. They have a psychoanalytic quality, with each of the disparate elements combining to create a sense of wholeness in each individual work, but also with distinct and even contradictory pieces coexisting in the same series.

The uniquely American opioid crisis informs much of this body of work. The opioid crisis was fueled by a principle of financial profit above all else. Paradoxically, in order to combat this pharmaceutical epidemic we are compelled to turn to some of the institutions that were involved in its creation. This push-and-pull is at the heart of Stern’s work.

For Stern, the artmaking process creates a transformative space where the subjective converts to the objective; and idea or feeling becomes a tangible painting or sculpture. In his New England Journal of Medicine series Stern takes a publication rooted in objective, scientific information and subverts the process, making it into a fixed art object. Stern thinks of the journal as a wall on which to hang his art. The series plays with the tensions between authority, truth, and experiences. For Stern, there is an important contradiction in his use of the journals; the knowledge it contains is in a sense exalted and preserved forever, however it simultaneously encases the knowledge rendering it inaccessible.

AWAKE AWAKE ASLEEP is on view at 168 Suffolk Street through April 9, 2022.