LITTLE ZELDA COMMUNITY ANNEX
660-662 FRANKLIN AVENUE
DECEMBER 15 - 18, 2016
An exhibition featuring work by Sean Bayliss, Jude Broughan, Davide Cantoni, Noa Charuvi, Seth Cohen, Kysa Johnson, Stephen Nguyen, and Michael Wilson, curated by Michael Wilson.
Featured Image: Seth Cohen Plank, 2016. Foam, wire, and epoxy, 18 x 7 x 7 inches.
“There’s no such thing, anymore, as facts.” This recent Orwellian remark by Tr*mp spokesperson Scottie Nell Hughes might, in another context and at a less worrying time, have fuelled an interesting if abstract epistemological discussion. But under the blatantly selfserving and profoundly regressive regime into which the American people are already being being painfully inducted, it signals something altogether darker—an elitist, amoral economics rooted in the manipulation of public opinion through the obfuscation of meaningful information. “post-fact.” features the work of eight artists for whom such a system is anathema, and who trace the roots and consequences of distorted ideas around authority, democracy, and the power of language to displace events. “I was teaching a crafts class to a bunch of ninth graders,” writes Sean Bayliss about his painting beastin’ Mister, “and they were getting loud. After I told them several times to settle down, one student passed in front of me and said quietly, ‘Why you beastin’ Mister?’” It’s the kind of disarming moment in which the artist specializes, but also one that acquires new resonance in an era when public school students are likely to suffer from the imposition of backward-looking pedagogy.
Jude Broughan’s use of 1990s-vintage commercial photographic transparencies in her mixedmedia works Label II and Label III begins to disassemble the complex artifice behind advertising and its idealized vocabulary of desire. In allowing ourselves to be spoon-fed aspirational images that do not reflect an external reality, we risk allowing aspiration to take the place of reality.
Davide Cantoni uses images in the popular realm, particularly news photographs, as the bases for “burned drawings” produced by sensitizing paper with pencil and exposing it to sunlight through a lens. His work reminds us of photography’s function as a documentary tool, but also of its inherent instability. Like one of Tr*mp’s statements, Cantoni’s image of the US Capitol is a “fact” that has been subjected to manipulation and is vulnerable to decay.
Noa Cheruvi’s paintings of urban ruins read as a mournful allegories for the death of democracy achieved at the hands of a real-estate developer, but also contain glimmers of hope in their identification of formal beauty in architectural fragments. Seth Cohen’s sculpture Money Pile represents, in the artist’s words, “the supplication to Mammon and also the real endorphin high and satisfaction of having cash,” while Plank confronts “our efforts to achieve a professional position to get that cash we want/need.” “If they relate to Tr*mp,” he writes, “perhaps it is in his ability to be an aspirational figure for so many, and how the pitfalls of collaboration are (for me) ever present.”
Kysa Johnson’s drawings of “Terrible Roman Emperors” recall the corruption that defined that era, and which ultimately precipitated its collapse. Of Tiberius, she writes: “He had no interest in the job, only in the power and luxury it afforded him. He did no work and left the ruling to the Senate. He decided not to live in the Capitol city of Rome; instead, he lived in Capri in his lush villa where he openly indulged his pedophilia. A weak, depraved, sick, lazy, power-hungry man. Here we go again.
Stephen Nguyen’s Memorial is a Stars-‘n’-Stripes that has been painted over in shades of grey, converting the red-white-and-blue standard into a monochrome image of itself. Nguyen’s work concentrates on isolating the act of looking as a way to understand the means by which we read visual information in a given space; here, that examination also suggests a national identity stripped of its vital color.
Finally, Michael Wilson’s drawings, from his series “Glittering Generalities,” explore the specialist terminology of truth, falsehood, and opinion itself. They depict various terms that linguists, scientists, and sociologists have coined to describe the use of verbal language as a tool for obfuscation, persuasion, and suppression—very often to political ends.
Little Zelda Community Annex was made available by Michael de Zayas part of an effort toward healing and renewed thought in the aftermath of the recent US general election result. The curator would like to thank Callie Criswell, Michael de Zayas, and the artists.
Enquiries about the exhibition should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org; enquiries about Little Zelda Community Annex should be addressed to email@example.com.