Opening Reception: Saturday, August 6, 5 – 8pm
School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents “Condition X”, an exhibition featuring artwork by past participants in the Summer Residency Program that focuses on human frailty as expressed through love, death, sex, vulnerability and connection. Curated by Keren Moscovitch, program coordinator in the Division of Continuing Education, in consultation with curator and Summer Residency faculty member David Gibson, the exhibition will be on view August 6 – 20 at the Westside Gallery, 133/141 West 21st Street, ground floor, New York City.
The participating artists are: Nate Burbeck, Marcos Chin, Barnett Cohen, Annika Connor, Grayson Cox, Sarah Dineen, Tomer Exterman, Marc Freeman, Emiliano Granado, Annette Isham, Apryl McAnerney, Carolina Moscoso, William Nelson, Iviva Olenick, Jeremy Olson, Maria Petrovskaya, Jonathan Reid Sevigny, Ilona Szwarc and George Towne.
Several of these artists utilize traditional and, some might say, romantic media, creating a tension between “soft” studio practice and the quick, contemporary communications that happen in a global society dominated by social networking Web sites, blogs and interactivity. Iviva Olenick’s dainty handmade narrative embroideries act as an old-world “blog,” chronicling her own desire to find a mate in New York City’s dating scene as well as the experiences of Brooklynites seeking and often finding love. Annika Connor’s lush watercolors of socialites recall a New York defined by Sex in the City, whose young fashionistas are searching for love and excitement. Her Kissing Couples series illuminates the subjects’ ever-present desire for intimacy and romance. George Towne’s poignant portraits of gay men function as photographs in their immediacy and as classical paintings in their preciousness. New York City becomes the protagonist in many of these works, even as we are invited to peer into the intimate experiences of the artists and their subjects.
The artists seemingly triumph over suffering and angst through the poetry of form, suggesting the immediacy of mid-century American Abstract Expressionism as well as the narrative structure of myth. Sarah Dineen’s tortured abstractions evoke human viscera removed from the body. Her paintings become places where the memory of fury, lust, intimacy and deeply rooted urgency to connect to another human being merge into a powerful force, and places where creative energy and sexual energy become one.
Bill Nelson’s mythic figure studies seek to illuminate the sexual transgressions found in the Biblical texts his Catholic upbringing exposed him to, albeit subliminally. Apryl McAnerney’s humanoid beasts explore lifecycles and dreamscapes. Jonathan Reid Sevigny’s detailed illustrations of prepubescent debauchery explore a world imagined by outsider artists such as Henry Darger, rife with historical and artistic allusion.
The photographers in this exhibition invite us into a seemingly pedestrian world where lives connect and just as quickly splay out in opposite directions. Ilona Szwarc documents the apparent instabilities, anxiety, innocence, sacredness, as well as vanity and narcissism, of women in their private or fantasy lives. Barnett Cohen’s exploration of the life of an aging, eccentric southerner leads him to the clapboard home of Oliver Hurt, who talks about his thoughts on his own death–which he eagerly awaits–and his still-vivid memories of his former lovers. The photographs illuminate the stark solitude and raw vulnerability of his existence. Tomer Exterman’s portraits of senior citizens on Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach are a bold and endearing representation of the convergence of culture and individualism. Emiliano Granado’s Time for Print series gives viewers a glimpse of the interaction between photographer and aspiring model, with the subject awaiting his or her moment of fame and the photographer capturing a moment of quiet and self-awareness.
Several of the artists explore personal identity, such as Annette Isham, whose video Friends First! deals with the construction of identity, role playing, and the relationships among self, others and the space between. Marcos Chin’s Machoman subverts several familiar male archetypes in his soft sculpture, a wearable chest plate which alludes to armor and creates a dialogue between forms traditionally thought of as masculine and effeminate.
Finally, the seemingly simple matter of human connection is investigated in Grayson Cox’s Point of Purchase, an interactive sculpture that works somewhat like an altar or water-cooler by providing people with a place to charge their cell phones, drawing them together and encouraging connection to one another. Jeremy Olson’s work considers the built environment in relation to desire and fantasy, including the architectural spaces we traverse as well as the construction of media. Carolina Moscoso’s Accusation deals with accusation by others–or by a man towards himself–and with the associated inner struggle, emotional void and perceived punishment for what is right or wrong. Nate Burbeck’s solitary figures in eerily supernatural landscapes point to an experience of wonder in which the sublime overtakes the individual.
The Westside Gallery, located at 133/141 West 21st Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, is open Monday through Friday, 9am to 7pm, and Saturday, 10am to 6pm; closed on Sundays and public holidays. The gallery will be closed from Friday, July 1, 1pm, through Monday, July 4, for Independence Day. The gallery is accessible by wheelchair. For more information, please call 212.592.2145.