LondonCondo 2019: Maureen Paley hosting Queer Thoughts, New York showing Chelsea Culprit
Queer Thoughts presents Fear of Seduction, an exhibition of new work by Chelsea Culprit, at Maureen Paley, London.
Culprit expands upon her exploration of the classed, gendered body into an elemental understanding of bodies mediated, colonised, disﬁgured and transformed by the ﬂows of global capital, and in particular, its signs. In these works Culprit elides narrative, emphasising a formal deconstruction of the linguistic and visual codes that lend intelligibility and meaning to form, colour, and the body (the body itself a sign to be performed and transmitted).
Culprit’s works study the colours that code contemporary life, along with the material histories, industrial processes and mechanical apparatuses that proliferate them. Colours organise allegiance and behaviour, and stand as metonyms for a vast web of designations and meanings for humans and their institutions. In relation to the Modernist view of the body and it’s labor as mechanically reproducible, the digitally transmittable body exists as an endless surface from which to accumulate code, and conversely, as an aggregation of codes to be understood socially.
In a series of muralist canvases, High Spirited Chimeras With Hypnotic Digital Masks (III – V), the artist dislocates and reconﬁgures blocks of connotative colour throughout the fragmented and repeated form of a dancer in a show-stopping pose: head on the ﬂoor, hands gripping ankles, supine body in an arc towards sky. Contorted (and physiologically altered) by the repeated postures of its labour, the body becomes a living word-image, a cryptic hieroglyph. The fractal patterning of limbs and body parts activate the harmonic potential of the painting’s surface, against which the static textuality of digital communications appear ineffectual.
In contrast to the linearity of the paintings, new shaped-canvas works operate like logograms (i.e. a single character that designates an entire phrase or idea; a symbol enacting its own power). The upholstered legs and pelvises of this form coalesce in imperfect tessellations, evoking blocks of a geometrically patterned quilt – an American aesthetic tradition that predates geometric abstract painting and is signiﬁcant within the artist’s familial history. Like a handmade quilt, which as a tactile social artifact allows itself to be consumed by life’s processes, the hybrid bodies of these well-heeled femmes are composed of found and repurposed textiles and strung with the chains of bodily necessity. If they appear surrendered, it is only to the absolute exposure of being a thing itself, a self-engendered sigil of ones inherent freedom, and the liberating potential of a judgment day that can never come.
Chelsea Culprit lives and works in Mexico City. Recent solo exhibitions include DMing Purgatory at Queer Thoughts, New York, Right to Remain Elegant with Galería La Esperanza at Barba Azul, Mexico City and Fishnets at Uma Certa Falta de Coerencia in Porto, Portugal. Select group exhibitions include Dwelling Poetically: Mexico City, A Case Study at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; Pintura Reactiva at Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City; Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; Foxy Production, New York; and Galerie Ophdal, Stavanger.© Chelsea Culprit, courtesy Queer Thoughts, New York and Maureen Paley, London