June 26 – July 29, 2011
On Stellar Rays is pleased to present a summer group exhibition with works by Terry Adkins, Barbara DeGenevieve, Rochelle Feinstein, Maren Hassinger, Clifford Owens, William Pope.L and Martha Rosler. The exhibition explores, through personal example, the way interests converge among peers and genealogies are developed.
The departure point of the exhibition is Owens’ own work, which frequently engages other artists in collaborative performances and dialogue. His Anthology project, forthcoming November at MoMA PS1, investigates the historical function of the ‘score’ in performance and the productive tension between collaboration and authorship. Owens’ work is influenced by a preceding generation of African American artists working in performance, as well as a generation of artists for whom social awareness and activism is the norm. Inti maps out, as Owens states, “how an artist’s work is always informed by and through other voices,” no matter how singular the artist’s practice.
Terry Adkins frequently reclaims and transforms discarded or abandoned objects to locate and reposition particular histories, often those that resonate with an unheralded past. Columbia resurrects the legacy of blues vocalist Bessie Smith. A large wall-mounted wooden disc, in the shape of a 78rpm vinyl record, is coated with 160 coats of glossy black paint, the number of recordings Smith made for Columbia records while under contract.
Following a year at the American Academy in Rome, Adkins produced a group of works mining the city’s cultural heritage and his own childhood instruction in Catholic ritual. In Prophet, Adkins channels Michelangelo’s horned portrayal of Moses, while cross-referencing the narratives of John the Baptist and John Brown. Monk takes a similar bust like form as the tonsured head of a scribe atop a stack of historical memoirs. The regalia in the High Priest photographs is likewise a personal exploration of Adkins’ Catholic heritage, albeit through the Baptist guise of secular status accorded early American blues artists.
Maren Hassinger’s multimedia work encompasses sculpture, installation, performance and video. She utilises both organic and inorganic materials to create sculpture that evokes strong natural forms, often directly responding to their environment. In Column, Hassinger suspends a column into the middle of the gallery space, constructed from black-knotted garbage bags. Both poetic and playful, Hassinger’s work frequently recaptures her history in dance, encouraging physical and emotional engagement on the part of the viewer.
Martha Rosler is an artist who works primarily in the medium of photomontage. She combines and reconfigures both image and text. Most of her work concerns social issues, which are manifested at sites as various as the kitchen, the television set, the streets and the transport systems. In Hooded Captives she juxtaposes an oblivious haute couture model with the bent over figures of torture victims. The pairing is framed by an austere, but recognizably domestic interior. For this series from 2004, Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful the artist revisited an earlier body of work of the same name from the mid 1960’s.
Rochelle Feinstein’s paintings often fuse particular painting histories with pop culture. Mr. Please Please, painted in broad strokes of blood red paint and emblazoned in gold leaf text, portrays the red velvet cape of James Brown, as photographed for the Christie’s sale of The James Brown Collection in 2008. Mr. Please Please evokes Brown’s legacy, specifically his trademark “cape routine”, in which mid-performance he fell to his knees, feigning exhaustion, was draped in his cape by an escort and shuffled off stage, while the back up vocals chimed “Please, please, please don’t go,” until Brown boldly arose and returned to his screaming fans. Feinstein’s bold painting style mimics the theatrical ruses employed by performers and gestural painters alike to heighten audiences’ emotional response.
Barbara DeGenevieve’s work intends to incite mixed emotions and charged debate, presenting here the Panhandler Project, in which she photographs male nudes reclining in odalisque-like poses. Learning that the men were homeless and paid by DeGenevieve for the project intensifies contradictory responses, broaching taboo topics to address issues of class, race, nudity, and sexuality, as well as problems of objectification inherent to the photographic medium.
William Pope.L presents a new work, comprised of three signed documents in which the artist grants power of attorney to his dealer, Jay Gorney, for the duration of the exhibition. The work makes tangible the unspoken yet implied contractual agreement, of trust, that exists between performer and audience in any performance. Deceptively simple white sheets of paper, which were scanned, copied and emailed numerous times to transfer information and signatures between the artist, dealer, and notary across distances, bear the legal and cultural weight implied in such a gesture, and further comment on the agency artists grant others in communicating the intentions of their work.
Clifford Owens’ work, One for Ben Patterson, was created during a performance recently held at MoMA, organized by William Pope.L, an artist whose work has held great significance for Owens. For this score, Owens sourced materials from Tristan Tzara’s Vaseline Symphonique, and Benjamin Patterson’s fluxus scores with ground coffee, employing the audience to assist him in creating a nude body print with Vaseline and coffee on a 10-foot piece of paper. Like all the work in the show, an irreverent gesture, critical risk, and a nod to one’s influences, commands a direct confrontation and recalls when such demands of the viewer were more prevalent in art-making practices.