The Garden of Earthly Delights
Curated by Karen Gilbert
April 17 – May 24, 2018
In today’s contemporary society established around excess, where are the lines drawn between morality and transgression? The Garden of Earthly Delights will examine the dark and twisted side of indulgence, such as themes of madness, sexuality, obsession, food, love, commercialization, money, and passion. On view will be work by Studio Zeitguised (Developed 2001, Berlin), Sophia Narrett (b. 1987, Concord, MA), Martynka Wawrzyniak (b. 1979, Warsaw), Mandy Lyn Ford (b. 1989, New Jersey), Joanne Leah (b. 1979, Germany), and Sophie Larrimore (b. 1980, Annapolis, Maryland).
The painting by Hieronymus Bosch that lends its name to the title of this exhibition is a glorious and symbolic representation of fleshy indulgence, sexual joy, and original sin, however by representing both heavenly and hellish images, it also serves as a dire warning to the perils of life’s temptations and example of paradise lost. This exhibition, while relishing in the joys of humanity, instead asks us to reexamine our preconceptions of indulgence and reconsider good vs. evil within the contexts of fetish, surrealism, gluttony, fear, and sexuality. As novelist and screenwriter Peter S. Beagle writes to describe Bosch’s painting, and aptly, also this show, it is an "erotic derangement that turns us all into voyeurs, a place filled with the intoxicating air of perfect liberty.”
Studio Zeitguised is a Berlin-based collective of international artists. On view, will be their award-winning work, geist.xyz which presents the rhythmic, fluid, hypnotizing aesthetic of silk-like materials, liquids, and natural substances flowing organically around the viewer’s vision to create a surreal alternative reality. The videos while realistic in portrayal is in fact technologically coded from algorithms and pioneering motion graphics, additionally accentuated with subterranean sound and chords. The work serves as an entirely synthetic approach to textile; handmade yet completely artificial and develops for the viewer as poetic and lyrical choreography within a surreal soundscape. The viewer is left transfixed in an otherworldly environment where senses are heightened.
Sophia Narrett makes narrative embroideries around concepts of desire, fantasies, and fiction. She addresses how emotional and sexual interactions serve as a form of escapism, self-actualization, and disaster while examining the fun and self-understanding that comes from adult games, play, or dress up. Narret builds reference images in Photoshop from online screenshots, social media, and photos she has taken before developing these images into stitched soft-core porn. Her work rejects the idea that the history of craft and embroidery puts it at odds with eroticism. Instead they seem to radiate with a heightened sense of intimacy, due to the time and commitment to render the images in thread as well as the insatiable tactility they imbue. Narrett lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Martynka Wawrzyniak is a conceptual artist whose unsettling and intimate performances, photographs, and videos constantly push the boundary between the artist as self and the viewer. Important examples of her work include “Smell Me” (2012), where Wawrzyniak, along with a chemistry research team, collected and concentrated the essence of her hair, sweat and tears to create essential oils that could be smelled in glass vials or via an immersive scent chamber bringing the visitor directly into a human being's most intimate sphere. This project led to Eu de M, a public incarnation of the project, in which a fake fragrance strip advertisement with the essence of Wawrzyniak’s sweat, ran in the May 2014 issue of Harpers Bazaar. Wawrzyniak explains this important work as expanding the definition of self-portrait beyond the traditional art context, using the guerilla tactic of spreading her essence across the country for the mass market to consume unwittingly. In “Feed,” (2012) Wawrzyniak, for one year, wiped her mouth after every dinner with an identical 20x20 cloth dinner napkin, which were then filed, sewn together, and recorded with the ingredients she ate. By cataloguing and sharing her meals with the public she represented a year in her life through nourishment and developed the basis for what sustains a living, breathing body. On view in The Garden of Earthly Delights, will be Chocolate (2011), a 9-and-a-half-minute performance video in which the artist is slowly submerged in 16 gallons of chocolate syrup. The work was shown in Commercial Break, curated by Neville Wakefield presented by The Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, at the 54th Venice Biennale, Italy. It is sensual, claustrophobic, gluttonous, thrilling, and explores the multiple sides of fear and fantasy. Often compared to Sophie Calle as a "first-person artist", Wawrzyniak’s work blurs the line between public and private and incorporates her life into her works in a way that redefines the idea of the author. Wawrzyniak lives and work in Brooklyn, NY.
Mandy Lyn Ford is a Los Angeles artist, who’s tactile and emotional work straddles the line between painting and sculpture. Using canvas, paint, acrylic medium, and gesso, she molds and hand builds 3D surfaces often cutting them up half way through and reassembling. Each work informs the next as well as stands in conversation to such contemporaries as Bret Slater, Caroline Larsen, Peter Halley, Jonathan Lasker, Bram Bogart, Kari Cholnoky. In this way the works take on the historic dialogue of painting while developing their own vocabulary. With inspiration coming from sumptuous layer cakes, techy computer screen, vintage graphics, punk rock, and lush stained-glass window they each strike a balance between rough and dirty, and sexy and clean. Ford lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
Photographer Joanne Leah, explores human’s physical relationship with ordinary objects within the context of fetish, bondage, flesh, and sensation, to create a body of work that is both uncomfortable and beautiful. Working with models from the fetish community and taking inspiration from concepts of temptation, obsession, and compulsion, her works push boundaries and ask the question of what people find arousing and whether perceptions can change. Leah lives and works in Brooklyn, NY
Sophie Larrimore concentrates her imagery on a fascinating alternation between figuration and abstraction. In her recent body of work, she combines a smart interplay between human beings and dogs as geometric shapes, which play off one another. In Untitled, 2017, for example the main attention is concentrated on two figures, a crouching human and dog in an abstracted expression of petting. Done in dreamy, fuzzy, pastel watercolors, the half-naked body showing only touching hands, feet and female breasts, is subdued becoming almost domestic. Smoothly curving forms and geometries of line and shape provide a Matisse or Leger sensibility while her use of tiny dots is fauvism or pointillistic in style. Larrimore lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.