Slouching Towards Bethlehem at the Project

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Date/Time: 29/07/2004 12:00 am

Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Curated by Jeffrey Uslip
July 29 – August 21, 2004
Opening reception Thursday, July 29 from 6 to 8 pm
Summer Hours: Monday – Friday, 10 am – 5:30 pm
Exhibition Press Release
The Project, New York, is pleased to present the group exhibition Slouching Towards Bethlehem. The title references Joan Didion’s eponymous landmark essay and examines failed utopian propositions. Didion’s examination of the deterioration of ideals among Haight-Ashbury hippies during the late ‘60’s helps explore contemporary notions of de-atomization through the lens of anarchist architectural lexicons and cultural bohemianism. Artists include William Basinski, Julie Becker, Molly Corey, Jonah Freeman, Rachel Harrison, Michael Phelan, Matt Johnson, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, Jenny Perlin, Karlis Rekevics, Gedi Sibony, Oscar Tuazon, and Fritz Welch.
Hippie Counter Culture Referencing cultural Americana, Michael Phelan’s painting, I Know You Rider (2004), juxtaposes gold leaf with an album cover of the late Jerry Garcia, invoking an icon of the counter-culture community and placing his image on a literal veneer of the crass commercialism against which he stood. In collaboration with Jonah Freeman, both artists present Expand Your Mind (2004) and It’s All in Your Head (2004), two psychedelia-inspired works printed on perforated LSD blotter paper, thereby reassigning meaning to hippie ephemera. In another shuffling of meaning, Matt Johnson’s whimsical sculpture poses appearance against reality in a banal object. Johnson’s Honey Bear (2004) consists of an inverted household honey dispenser standing on its ear, seemingly balancing on a small residue of honey although the actual fulcrum is the cast bronze dispenser cap. Rachel Harrison’s Untitled (2004) consists of a rainbow-colored form, apparently a formal “bust”, resting on a bed of multi-colored straws, which can be read as a kind of utopian memorial to the principles of hippie counter culture.
Critique of the Dome Molly Corey’s The Dome Project (2004) investigates architecture that serves as both monument and memorial to utopian communities. Corey constructs small-scale models of Buckminster Fuller geodesic domes, accompanied by a video that juxtaposes footage of the Red Rock dome commune, in which the artist was born, with interviews with the builders of the world’s largest geodesic dome. Oscar Tuazon recontextualizes the founding principles of dome communes by installing a large bed within an aluminum dome, thereby creating a comfortable place for reflection. Recalling the radical social experiment of the commune, the structure reactivates the gallery space to form a place for contemplating the revolutionary potential of the present.
Towards an Anarchist Rendering of Spatial Sublime William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops 1.1, a recording made by transferring sound from analog to digital media, documents the deterioration of a sweeping musical score whose sound particles gradually disintegrate and become dust. The recording becomes a eulogy for the original melody, evoking utopia via the poetics of entropic decay. Jenny Perlin’s 16 mm stop motion animation, Possible Models (2004), looks at capitalism’s attempt to purchase paradise through three “case studies”: the Mall of America’s failure to live up to its potential as a utopian complex; the Mall of Dubai as the new global super-mall; and the “freedom ship”, a floating self sustained mall-based community/commune that encircles continents. Gedi Sibony’s sculpture Untitled (2004) is a web of silver, black board, wood twigs and wool carpet, which may be read as either a model of the universe or a rickety utopian structure. Karlis Rekevics’ cast plaster sculpture, Submersive (2004), consists of a structure appropriated from a derelict scaffolding site, and explores the estranged relationship between the individual and the urban landscape. Fritz Welch uses cultural debris to examine the construction of anarchist architecture. The Overlook (2004) consists of a wall drawing based on the artist’s father’s failed utopian home designs, a hanging “model” of the artist’s home, from which he is being evicted; and frozen fake blood that will slowly melt and eventually land on a drum to “play” a section of the Plastic Ono Band’s song “We All Shine On”.
Urban Repercussions Jennifer and Kevin McCoy’s Learning from Las Vegas (2003), the most recent of the artists’ signature “suitcase artworks”, appropriates Robert Venturi’s book to categorize the architectural vernacular of the Las Vegas strip. Learning from Las Vegas’ digital archive of 21 films including Casino, Showgirls, Godfather II, and Viva Las Vegas, is an attempt to analyze the effects cinematic representations on the formation of the individual. Julie Becker’s staged photographs reconstruct notions of personal history within the framework of Los Angeles. Becker’s photographic series Whole (2002) analyses the omnipresence of the federal bank building in the center of Echo Park, California. Becker’s tableaux juxtapose elements from a recently deceased friend’s home with a small scale model of the bank, employing nostalgia to suggest a political critique of the creation of home.
Upcoming in NY and LA:
The Project – New York, Daniel Martinez, The House America Built, September 3 – October 2
The Project
37 West 57th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10019
T: 212-688-4673
F: 212-688-1589
The Project – Los Angeles, Inaugural Exhibition: Jason Salavon, September 10 – October 16
The Project – Los Angeles
6086 Comey Street
Los Angeles, CA 90034
T: 323-939-3777
F: 323-939-3553

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