The Pit is pleased to announce Flavr Savr*, a group exhibition curated by Alexandra Gaty with work by Math Bass, Danielle Dean, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Ragen Moss, and Kathleen Ryan. The exhibition runs from April 10 to May 22, 2016 with an opening reception on Sunday, April 10 from 4-7 pm. install shots below
People in positions of power and authority claim ambiguity and uncertainty as a means of control (think of the conservative cry to “teach the controversy!” regarding climate change and evolution; or the fact that no distinction between GMO and non-GMO foods is recognized by the US FDA). The five artists in this exhibition embrace the oppositional potential of ambiguity and uncertainty for its perennial ability to suggest alternatives to prescribed social and cultural conventions. By using the recognizable and transforming it, they open up new interpretive frameworks and communicate meanings often in subversion of that recognizable thing.
In Math Bass’ video Drummer Boi (which debuted at MOMA PS1 in 2015 and is exhibited in LA for the first time) performers pace, drum unconventionally albeit with conventional sticks—which themselves are later seen organized and arranged as sculpture—and move pedestrianly around black and white monolith-like props that we later see from behind, revealing their artifice. Jump cuts introduce wooden sculptures appearing as graceful versions of construction framing, mimicking and interacting with the architectural features and negative spaces they are seemingly meant to fill. In the end what is created is non-linear and atmospheric, spare yet complex, part musical and theatrical performance co-mingling with sculpture, instrument and prop. Ultimately, its open-endedness is metaphorical, as are its multiple vantage points of “frames” and the “framed”.
Danielle Dean’s hand-drawn animation True Red (which debuted at The Studio Museum in 2016 and is being exhibited in LA for the first time) is part of a larger project involving sculpture and performance that uses her prior experience in advertising to examine the cultivation of identity. This animation visualizes a metamorphosis and a contamination of a ubiquitous consumer product, the Nike shoe, specifically the Dunk Low Pro SB True Red. Here Dean takes the shoe’s nickname, the “Vampire Shoe”, as a jumping off point to a series of morphing images that are both dream-like and narrative, suggesting our consumption as supplication to a vampiristic corporatocracy. Dean’s low-fi and DIY piece reveals and confronts the predatory race-to-the-bottom hunt for cheap labor as pathologically viral and forever adapting.
Since the 1960s, Lynn Hershman Leeson has been a pioneer of the intersection of technology, feminism, and art. Her work relentlessly considers the ethics and formation of identity through human relationships to technology. Hershman Leeson’s installation is comprised of the wallpaper piece, GMO Animals, Crops, Labs (2014) and is accompanied by propoganda-like posters all of which appropriate images from bioengineering advertising to introduce ambiguity into the otherwise straightforward depictions of these thoroughly ambiguous subjects. Hershman Leeson describes GMOs “as the ultimate form of surveillance”—surveillance that once only enveloped us has now infiltrated our bodies. Through her work Hershman Leeson raises questions about selfhood and the social and philosophical implications of bioengineering as “reinvention”.
Ragen Moss’ art draws from her law degree to explore ideas and problems around social conduct, protest, and civic-formation in the making and consumption of art objects. Moss‘s works are concerned with the political and social standards of which things are measured, or what the artist calls “regimes of representation, both politically and visually”. Here her vacuum-formed, translucent polychrome plastic sculpture Sweatshirt (with grid T-shirt) (2016) co-opts the form and legibility of the mass produced, message-emblazoned sweatshirt, and redirects its physical, conceptual, and social function into a mirror of the artwork itself. Closer inspection reveals another resin form nested within, leading to questions of a concealed interiority, while text scrawled onto the chrysalis-like shell is informed by 1980’s political and feminist theory.
Kathleen Ryan’s sculptures emerge from the overlapping zones of abstraction and representation, as well as the tension between control and detachment. Working with a range of industrialized readymade materials, such as concrete, marble, steel, and pewter, Ryan physically manipulates these substances to shift their anticipated character both formally and conceptually into something more ambiguous. In this exhibition Ryan presents Bacchante (2016) a marble table as a pedestal for an informal cluster of polished concrete forms resembling giant grapes or heavier-than-air balloons. These cumulative, repeated forms appear to be multiplying and on the verge of overwhelming their support. Reoriented from installation to installation, their contingent quality is antithetical to the permanence that cement promises.
The Pit is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12-5 pm. Please direct all inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The unveiling and advertising of the Flavr Savr tomato, also known as CGN-89564-2 and the first genetically engineered thing to receive FDA approval for human consumption in 1994, was surprisingly unambiguous and straightforward with its plain-to-see labeling as a genetically modified organism and exhaustively informative brochure. This is ironic given the clandestine state of GMOs today, but also, and more interestingly perhaps, given the ambiguousness of the thing itself: a recognizable face, which is a confession in a way, but which has been rearranged internally to become something else at its core, making this recognizable face actually a concealment, that paradoxically wants to be devoid of mystification and matter-of-fact in its rhetoric of inevitability.