LevelFive and Future Gestalt
March 4 – April 15, 2012
On Stellar Rays presents LevelFive and Future Gestalt, two new videos by Brody Condon. Both works originated with recent performance projects at the Hammer Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art respectively.
Condon exacts a compelling investigation into a web of mid-20th century ideologies: the theorization of humans as bio-machines via Cybernetics, Minimalism’s engagement with the body as social space, and experimental theatre’s recursive dialogue with group psychotherapy. The exhibition articulates an organizing timeline, starting with a fictitious self-actualization seminar and moving forward to an imaginary future heterotopia.
Future Gestalt is part sci-fi film, part participatory performance, and part experiential essay on the history of psychotherapeutic group encounters. Set in a now antiquated vision of the far future, five trained performers robed in vivid, diaphanous costume are subjected to open-ended performative psychotherapy techniques, specifically Gestalt group therapy, developed most famously by Fritz Perls in the 1940’s. Tony Smith’s ‘shape shifting’ sculpture Smoke (1967), permanently installed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, acts as the elaborate set and carnivorous potted plants as exotic props.
The performers are physically intertwined and interact directly with the monumental sculpture, which appears to embody the immaterial presence of the encounter group leader. It is unclear whether the faceted structure is an AI, inter-dimensional entity, or numinous vessel. Equally ambiguous are the origins of the characters, as each brings a distinct style of communication to the session, such as an operatic language of shrills, clicks, and whispers, or a choreography of movement and voice. Through the process of filming, unresolved tension between the production of temporary community, individual psychodrama and the precarious authority of the incomprehensible therapist creates an alluring sense of suspense.
LevelFive is the culmination of an immersive durational performance where 30 participants were invited by the artist to invent personae, and remain in character for 48 hours whilst enacting self-actualization procedures of the now infamous Large Group Awareness Training seminars from the 1970′s. Intended as a self-transformation for the masses, the seminars utilized a combination of philosophic, psychological, and spiritual teachings focused on assisting participants in the achievement of a sense of personal transformation via a new understanding of themselves as programmable and biological machines.
In keeping with the artist’s recent practice, Condon engages a range of individuals and communities, using them to build elaborate worlds within given parameters and suturing multiple models into a single platform. Though Condon’s works are activated by prescribed causal structures, the use of social spaces and live action produces a process of discovery with unknown and uncertain outcomes.
Brody Condon graduated with an MFA from the University of California San Diego and attended residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten. Condon recently presented work at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (2011); Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, NY (2011); Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles (2010); Greater New York at MoMA/PS1, Queens, NY (2010); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, LA (2010); Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2009); and Performa 09, New York, NY (2009); Sonsbeek International Public Sculpture Exhibition, The Netherlands (2008); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2008); and the Whitney Biennial at The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2004).
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum will present a solo exhibition of Condon’s work in 2012.