June 24 – July 22, 2018
Workshop with Kathleen Marie McDermott: Saturday, July 21, 2-4 PM
Natalie Fleming and Conor Moynihan
Kathleen Marie McDermott
and Sharif Waked
Three Acts, Three Scenes: Your Care, My Care, Careful Care is an exploration of care and by extension, trauma. The show, however, does not make assumptions as to what trauma, care and healing mean to the vulnerable, hurt and marginalized instead pointing to a reclamation of narrative as a form of care.
Because much of the work is from the inside looking out the show also embraces a kind of humor. One that comes from experiencing and living through momentary or sustained trauma, on both a micro and macro, individual and monolithic, human and non-human level. It is a humor that acts not as a defense mechanism, but as a means of survival.
There are three carefully constructed acts: Your Care, My Care, and Careful Care. Each act features three artists and in turn three works for a small and expertly curated experience.
Avye Alexandres, Selections from the Flipping Me, Flipping You series.
The Average Attendee (2018), Say Yes! (2018), A Special Bonus! (2018). Installation View. Photo: James Hilton.
We begin with Act 1: Your Care featuring Avye Alexandres’ participatory installation exposing the manipulative tactics of predatory, real estate “financial cults”. Alexandres highlights the more absurd aspects and circular language/logic of these seminars through the use of their traditional forms of advertisement: a non-sensical card game, “take one” tabbed flyers and video in which the viewer can only see a sparkling eye and glittery lips repeating and warping the deceptive “anyone can do it” message spread at these events – revealing the truth just beneath the surface.
Act 1 also includes Kathy High & Michelle Temple’s video project Rat Laughter which touches on the treatment, care and comfort of rats used for laboratory testing.
Joshua Rains, If You Need Me (2015-2016). Installation view. Photo: James Hilton.
The most striking and difficult work in this first act, however, is Joshua Rains’ series of illustrations If You Need Me, a series based on posts made by a Facebook “friend” publicly detailing his horrific experience with sexual violence and attempts at healing through appropriated sources. In this instance the appropriated source happens to be Rains’ own indigenous culture. We see a drawing, for example, of an indigenous man next to a plane ticket to Hawaii – the post simply reads “HEALING”. The delicate renderings of Facebook statuses without close inspection almost seem like an amusing schtick until you realize exactly what you’re looking at. Not only are we seeing the trauma of sexual violence, but also the macro trauma of erased, systemically abused and stolen identity. Rains seems to use this, what some would call “frivolous”, format in a tangible way to disarm the viewer. We expect a joke, something lighthearted and instead are confronted with our complicity on an individual level – the viewer does not know if Rains was given consent to create this work or how true his portrayal is – and a macro level, the treatment of indigenous people in the United States.
Dominic Quagliozzi, Piss Cup (2014) & Wipes (2014). Image courtesy of artist.
Act Two: My Care starts with Dominic Quagliozzi‘s paintings, Piss Cup and Wipes. In these two large scale works, Quagliozzi captures snapshots from his time in a hospital after a double lung transplant related to his cystic fibrosis. Creating these first person perspectives of peeing into a cup to provide a urine sample and wiping down his legs with a sterilizing towelette were a way of “dealing with his illness psychologically, emotionally, and therapeutically.” Simultaneously the irreverent titles and beautiful, textured pops of color seem to convey that this is his story to tell in the way he sees fit, one that is at times painful both physically and emotionally but also humorous. Not a tragedy, just apart of his life.
Act Two also includes work from
Miguel Bonneville’s ongoing video project The Importance of Being, that uses movement to express gratitude to select artists, writers, and scholars that have influenced their work. Study for The Importance of Being Simone de Beauvoir, the piece in this show, continues in this same vein. Through minimalist embodied actions such as balancing on their toes as they read a book, or staring at their gender fluid form in the mirror they acknowledge and reflect on Beauvoir’s feminist work and it’s impact on their own practice – breaking down and rebuilding socially created gender constructs.
Kathleen McDermott, Urban Armor # 2: Personal Space Dress (2014) and Urban Armor Video Reel (2013-2018) . Installation View. Photo: James Hilton
My Care ends with selections from Kathleen McDermott’s Urban Armor series in which her absurd, wearable technology fashions become a form of protection from the outside world. The Personal Space Dress (on display), for example, physically expands when it detects that someone is entering the wearer’s personal space. While funny it also makes us consider the lack of safety women feel moving around the world, making these pieces feel less whimsical and more of a necessity.
The show concludes with Act Three: Careful Care beginning with Stephanie Rothenberg’s satirical take on charitable giving, Planthropy. Rothenberg links the physical care of two plants suspended from the ceiling, above the viewer, to online philanthropy. They sit in clear vases connected to a wifi system, receiving water through an IV only if people tweet their often inane reasons for donating with the hashtag #DonateClimateChange. Some of these messages, such as “I donate because it’s sexy” play aloud. Critical and hopeful the piece explores our collective power, its usefulness and where we exercise it while making what often feels like an abstract form of care physical and intentional. The piece puts flora at the center of the climate change conversation while nodding to its human toll with the use of the IV as a possible criticism of traditional forms of environmentalism that focus more on nature than those human beings (often black and brown) most vulnerable to its effects.
Kyla Kegler’s Feel Me evokes an educational video you might find on PBS, albeit a bit more surreal. A soothing narrator guides us through Kegler’s clever and sometimes silly alternatives to our everyday world – tuned into technology and out of real physical experiences. A few of the objects used in the video are displayed in the installation under a glowing pink neon sign that reads “Feel Me”.
Sharif Waked, Chic Point (2003). Installation view. Photo: James Hilton.
The most poignant piece in this final act is Sharif Waked’s, Chic Point. The oldest piece in the show, it is the embodiment of every late 90s/early 2000s men’s fashion show you have ever seen – down to the techno/“world” music soundtrack. But there’s a twist – these men are modeling fashions designed to strategically reveal their bodies in the same way Palestinian men are made to bare their bodies at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank and Gaza.
An “I Love NY” shirt with the heart cut out to reveal the model’s chest or the white button up with a zipper across the middle take on a deeper meaning in this context. The juxtaposition between the absurd hilarity of the fashion show and awful reality of the situation is put into stark contrast as the high fashion becomes archival photographs of Palestinian men showing their bodies at these militarized border checkpoints.
Three Acts, Three Scenes embodies a self-reflective care. Building on top of each other, each act and each piece communicate a narrative that allows the viewer to consider what care really means, its intimate connection to trauma and hurt and what it actually means to heal.