Blum & Poe


16 Jul - 26 Aug 2011

Installaion view
Curated by Cecilia Alemani
16 July - 26 August, 2011

Blum and Poe is pleased to announce Glee, a group exhibition curated by Cecilia Alemani featuring Michele Abeles, Shannon Ebner, Sharon Hayes, Tobias Madison, Kaspar Müller, Virginia Overton, Joan Semmel, Andra Ursuta, Jakub Julian Ziolkowski.

The exhibition Glee brings together artworks by nine artists from different generations, working in both America and Europe. Glee is an exhibition informed by a synthetic look; a show in which works appear coated in a shiny patina charged with a startling artificiality. Imbued in an atmosphere of joyful madness, the exhibition is agitated by a strange, at times erotic, tension. Simultaneously affected and sincere, superficial and deep, pop and rotten, the selected works share a blissful and seductive presence that can hide an incumbent sense of tragedy.

Swiss-born artists Tobias Madison and Kaspar Müller collaborate in the creation of ephemeral works suspended from the gallery ceiling. Bamboo poles and climbing ropes are combined to craft precarious sculptures that are part magic fetishes and part exotic bric-a-brac.

The photographs by New York-based artist Michele Abeles are artificial microcosms in which fragments of naked bodies are juxtaposed with synthetic props such as lycra fabrics, fluorescent gels and plastic potatoes. Playing with the motif of the still life, Abeles questions the genres of photography through unexpected combinations of low-fi special effects.

Virginia Overton's sculptures seem to evoke a sense of fragile grandiosity. Made by appropriating found objects and construction materials, they defy gravity while threatening to collapse, turning sculpture into a combination of failure and despair.

Several artworks in the exhibition refer explicitly to the body and sexuality. Paintings from the early 1970s by 79-year old Joan Semmel surprise the viewer with their disarming freshness and sensual intensity. With a palette of bright, acid colors and a flatness that seems to refuse any illusionistic depth, these paintings portray erotic scenes between heterosexual couples. Semmel's works challenge the viewer with their confrontational scale and unexpected crops, in an explosion of fluorescent hues.

In a similar vein, Polish artist Jakub Julian Ziolkowski gives form to visionary canvases rooted in a Bosch-like universe where bodies are dismembered, strange creatures arise from the ground and colorful beings seem to swallow the paintings.

Other works are tinted by darker nuances. With her abrasive typography, Shannon Ebner's GL*R/A composes a fragmented visual poem that, according to the artist, is to be read as a hymn to great women.

In Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) Screeds #13, 16, 20 & 29, 2003, New York-based artist Sharon Hayes bridges the gap between history and the present, between written and spoken words. Her video shows a close-up of the artist's face as she declaims the transcripts of the audiotapes Patty Hearst sent to her parents during her kidnapping. Reciting by memory, Hayes performed the script in front of an audience who helped her recall each line, suggesting that trauma lays hidden into language.

Disarmingly gloomy in their somber colors and repetitive forms, the drawings by Romanian artist Andra Ursuta seem to be trapped in a loop, portraying the same scene over and over again. Upon closer inspection, the image of a corpse surfaces among the vegetation, composing a contemporary memento that seals the exhibition with yet another ecstatic image.

Cecilia Alemani is an independent curator and writer based in New York and Milan. From 2009 to 2010, she directed X Initiative, a year-long experimental non-profit space in New York, where she curated numerous exhibitions including solo shows by Keren Cytter, Luke Fowler, Hans Haacke, Christian Holstad, Derek Jarman, Mika Tajima, Tris Vonna-Michell and Artur Zmijewski. She is the co-founder of No Soul For Sale, a festival of independent spaces, non-profit organizations and artists' collectives held at X Initiative in New York and at Tate Modern in London in 2010. An advisor to Frame, the emerging art section of the Frieze Art Fair, Alemani has organized numerous exhibitions in museums, non-profits spaces and galleries, including The Comfort of Strangers (MoMA/PS1, New York, 2010), Solaris (Gió Marconi Gallery, Milan, 2009), boundLES (several venues in the Lower East Side, New York), ONLY CONNECT (with Art in General at Bloomberg Headquarters, New York, 2008, and Things Fall Apart All Over Again (Artists Space, New York, May 2005). She is the New York correspondent for Mousse Magazine and collaborates with other magazines including Domus and Art Press.

Tags: Michele Abeles, Keren Cytter, Shannon Ebner, Luke Fowler, Hans Haacke, Sharon Hayes, Christian Holstad, Derek Jarman, Tobias Madison, Kaspar Müller, Virginia Overton, Joan Semmel, Mika Tajima, Andra Ursuta, Tris Vonna-Michell, Jakub Julian Ziolkowski, Artur Zmijewski