Born 1985 in Hinsdale, IL, USA
Alan and Michael Fleming’s practice is marked by their desire to merge and condense the physical act with cerebral action. For the brothers, how we engage with our bodies is not separate from how we master ideas and understand the world. Bodily movement is and can be one with our thoughts. Though their practice is notably influenced by Bruce Nauman, the meister of conceptual post-studio practice, the artists distinguish themselves by referencing their unique context of being twins. By going back to their relationship as a foundation, they investigate what it means to look at the world around us as a series of relationships.
This turn in perspective rests within the nature of Cartesian dualism and in particular, the mind-body split. Their inquiries operate in gaps created by dualism and make visible bonds between seemingly divorced faculties of human understanding. Within their spatial interventions, these faculties become intermeshed. By combining phenomenological sensibilities with methodical application, they unite the nuances of the physical and cerebral to where they are no longer autonomous but interdependent.
Always in a state of curiosity and good humor, these exercises of empathy and support reveal that codependence is not only crucial but also celebrated. While drawing from elements of dance and acrobatics, they use their bodies in a manner that is distinct and separate from the virtuosic styles of these pursuits. The variation lies in the application of these elements to form a series of procedures for experimentation, exercises that test the potential of the body as a medium of examination of our relationship to surrounding architecture.
While their interventions start from a set of operations and tasks, it is tempered by their sensitivity to know their surroundings and each other. They balance off, mimic, and interlock with each other; physical feats are not possible without one another. They use their empathy as brothers and collaborators as a tool for investigating where these sensibilities apply. The Flemings’ understanding extends into their sculptures and videos that typically serve as artifacts of these exercises. As a result, they take on role of surrogates wherein each object represents each brother by their execution of a task.
This anthropomorphism accounts for inherent differences in conjunction with the way in which they correlate to one another. Through applying empathy as a critical tool, they examine what actually exists between individuals, faculties, or objects. Empathy is where one begins to understand one another and develop the ability to appreciate and respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences in the world around us.
In 2010, Alan and Michael Fleming received their MFAs from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which they attended together. They have exhibited and performed extensively throughout the United States and in Denmark, Germany, Scotland, the Ukraine, and Brazil. The winner of numerous awards, the twins were awarded fellowships to the NARS Foundation in Brooklyn in 2012, and the Artist in the Marketplace Program at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in 2011. Their last solo show, Studio Audience, was at Cindy Rucker Gallery in New York.
The artists live and work in Brooklyn, New York