September, 2018 update: the rise of right-wing nationalism still seeping across Europe, visible and banal as sweat stains on t-shirts after this ‘uncharacteristically’ hot summer (read: climate change). The energy that is spent on the daily task of filtering out what we are not able to emotionally handle has us drained. Every week there is a planet in retrograde. We are surviving so far.
Peres Projects presents Strange Messengers, a group exhibition presenting strategies and reflections on navigating contemporary life including works by Dorothy Iannone, Ad Minoliti, Donna Huanca, Rebecca Ackroyd, Manuel Solano, Jack O’Brien and Steffen Bunte.
Strange Messengers approaches the impossible task of interpreting the murky semiotics of contemporary life and the seven artists included act as messengers. Their role is both to relay as well as to enact. They are the strange and non-normative. The messages they deliver are vague, obscure, resisting categorization and slipping out from an often violent, patriarchic gaze. The message is at times unintelligible and frequently non-verbal. It depicts non-discrete and alien-like bodies, appendages and extensions of each other or disappeared entirely. Representations of the body in all of these artists’ work is a crucial reflection of the denudation not only of attire, but also of movements, expressions and societal conventions. They aim to disassemble and make visible the work that goes into being a body. These perspectives are vital in today’s unstable world, offering us not only modes of survival, but paths towards fulfillment.
With her erotic narratives, the work of Dorothy Iannone is the historic catalyst for the exhibition, out of which a larger and contemporary discourse emerges. Iannone’s work depicts women’s refusal of shame and states of ecstatic pleasure and through it, we are reminded of how we arrived at where we are now. The messages that pass across generations, between people involved in the same struggles that have lasted eons. Linear time is collapsed in order for us to listen forward and backward to our sisters.
These struggles are the continual confrontations of existing under the hegemony of a social context that demands that we be and love and work under the constraints of normative culture. Every motion therefore is a disruption within the contemporary context. These disruptions have now transcended categorical gender and sexual binaries in favor of more fluid, personal identities. These identities now challenge to push forward the hard won mainstream acceptance of feminism and homosexuality. The artists articulate this confrontation, act it out, and are created from it.
The works in this exhibition function both as objects and signifiers delivered by our strange messengers. The construction of these objects is a mode for the production of better spaces and futures, and the deciphering and interpretation of these new visual languages and signs are necessary in calling these futures into the present. As Iannone’s generation did in the 1960’s, we once again find ourselves at a cultural crossroads. Our messengers propose the road less traveled.all images © the gallery and the artist(s)