Southard Reid presents Lea Cetera’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, Expanding Brain.
The title of the show shares its name with a work in the exhibition, made in the style of the internet “Expanding Brain Meme”, showing three depictions, digitally printed on acrylic, of an individual’s brain reaching higher levels of enlightenment through successive realisations about their identity as an artist.
The video Artist Interview, 2018, projected in large scale, anchors the show, addressing the exploration of self and artistic identity. Cetera presents a confessional style artist interview taking equal inspiration from a recent BBC interview of a female assassin hired by President Duterte of the Philippines, and the 1981 film “My Dinner with Andre” by Louis Malle. The subject, an autobiographical, yet fictional version of Cetera, physical and vocal characteristics obscured as if protecting her identity from the viewer, appears in a subtitled, single shot Q&A. The artist responds and reflects on her position towards and within an environment where artists, specifically of colour, are expected to perform their identity, race, and gender, finding themselves in trap-like predicaments regarding expectations of content. The conversation ebbs and flows between a stream of consciousness monologue and a boilerplate questionnaire to which artists are expected to conform.
The grouping of discrete sculptures in Expanding Brain comprise a vernacular arrangement of objects that reference functional, utilitarian and civic design; wall shelves, filing cabinet, trash can in formica, plywood, acrylic and expanded steel. Upon closer inspection the sculptures hint towards a more private experience of the artist’s personal relationship to identity, art and art-making as a female person of colour, incorporating signage and laser etched excerpts from her correspondences and sketchbooks. This new body of work is located within a larger complex practice utilizing materials as an emotional barometer.
Lea Cetera (b. 1983, lives and works in NYC) works in sculpture, video and performance, often amalgamated into installation. She utilizes techniques culled from theatre and film-making to address constructed identities and the psychological spaces we construct and operate within, engaging with the mediation of technology, the alienation of the human body, and the aura of the object fetish.