Skip to main content

Not So Simple

August 5, 2020 – September 2, 2020

Featuring works by Nona Faustine, Shirin Neshat, Julian Opie, Kay Rosen, and Suara Welitoff

Works In Exhibition

Fiona tights

Julian Opie Fiona tights 1998 Paint on wood

66 15/16 x 25 3/16 x 11 inches inches  (170 x 64 x 28 cm)
Signed on bottom
(Inventory #29528)

When asked for his thoughts on his 1998 work, “Fiona tights,” Julian Opie wrote the following:

Looking for a language with which to draw the human figure, I came across a set of lavatory door signs. This gave me a basic format to draw with that I then applied to images of friends and neighbours. Looking back it seems I was sorting out the rules for many future works and projects, but at the time I just wandered in fairly casually asking people to take any old pose in the outfit they happened to be wearing and photographing them front on. A single logo-like image of each individual My main aim was to have images to make into two-sided statues of people. These, I would mix in with the statues of animals and cars and buildings that I had been using to build mixed composition exhibitions. A kind of indentikit 3D form of making an interchangeable art installation a bit like a children’s game where you make a town or farm scene.

Having built a small library of people to use in this way, I then started to realise that these “people statues” had a stronger sense of individuality and character than the other more generic objects and could be perhaps used in different and stand-alone ways. I conceived a project that instead of having a mix of objects or even a mix of people, would have the same person in various poses and outfits. The first poses had come about naturally but began to remind me of portrait poses in old master paintings, while the various outfits seemed to suggest clothing catalogues or shop window displays. I asked a stylish friend of mine to undertake the project and she patiently put on all her different outfits including casual, formal and even sport clothes, accompanied by all the standing poses we could think of for each outfit. It took quite a while and led to statues, large and small.
I like it when the internal logic of a project dictates the results.

In Deference

Shirin Neshat In Deference 2018 Dye-sublimation on aluminum

Edition of 20
25 9/16 x 40 inches  (64.9 x 101.6 cm)
Signed and numbered
(Inventory #31658)

“I think some of the core subjects of my work, for example, the notions of tyranny, political injustice, fanaticism, displacement, and immigration are some of the issues that feel very relevant considering what’s going on everywhere in the world today.”
Shirin Neshat

Neshat’s earliest works were photographs, such as the Unveiling (1993) and Women of Allah (1993–97) series, which explore notions of femininity in relation to Islamic fundamentalism and militancy in her home country. Her subsequent video works departed dramatically from overtly political content or critique, in favor of more poetic imagery and narratives. Her first video installations—the trilogy comprising Turbulent (1998), Rapture (1999), and Fervor (2000)—utilize dual video screens to portray abstract oppositions based around gender and society, the individual and the group. While these works hint at the restrictive nature of Islamic laws regarding women, they deliberately open onto multiple readings, reaching instead toward universal conditions. Other videos have expanded upon this formula, presenting similarly ambiguous narratives.

For the past several years, Neshat has been exploring the complex relationship between the physical state and the psychological one. Gesture and expression are examined in literal and metaphoric terms. There is contradiction in spite of directness, and a multiplicity of powerful implications is sensitively proposed. With “In Deference,” these issues are taken to art history and also to the present. With this work, Neshat has printed the photograph onto aluminum using dye-sublimation technology. Because the dyes are transferred directly into the metal surface of every photograph, the immediacy of the technique adds a distinctive physicality to the artist’s exceptional photography.

Shirin Neshat is a critically acclaimed artist who is celebrated for her photography and work in film and video. She has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions around the world, and has also been included in important group exhibitions, such as Prospect.1: New Orleans International Biennial; 11th Documenta; 5th Lyon Biennale; 12th Sydney Biennale; 3rd Gwangju Biennale; 54th Carnegie International; 48th Venice Biennale; 5th International Istanbul Biennale; and 2nd Johannesburg Biennale. Shirin Neshat’s works of art have been acquired by many private collectors, as well as institutions, including 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa; Brooklyn Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León; Museum Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Among other prestigious commendations she has received throughout her illustrious career, she was awarded the Praemium Imperiale Award, in Tokyo, from His Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi, honorary patron of the Japan Art Association, in 2017.

In Praise of Famous Men No More

Nona Faustine In Praise of Famous Men No More 2019 Silkscreen

Edition of 20
Paper size: 40 x 60 inches (101.6 x 152.4 cm)
Signed and numbered lower right in graphite
(Inventory #31762)

Nona Faustine
“In Praise of Famous Men No More”

“I think, as an artist, our jobs are to ask the hard questions.”
—Nona Faustine

In her series, “My Country,” Nona Faustine confronts and interrogates iconic American monuments, such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Statue of Liberty, using her camera to reframe conventional, colonialist perspectives, and reinserting some of the truth and trauma behind these memorialized spaces. The series was first created alongside Faustine’s critically received body of work, “White Shoes,” which garnered attention for the photographs’ provocative confrontation of slave sites throughout New York City, sites that had been obscured from the history books and contemporary life.

History fascinates, frustrates and motivates Faustine; in particular, the monuments and myths of American history—the very ones rooted in racism—that still dictate the framing of American identity and pride. Faustine is African American, and her family’s history has a direct line to African enslavement. Inherent to Faustine’s practice is not only paying tribute to the suffering of her own ancestors, but also to the status of African Americans in their own country, especially vis-a-vis the commemoration of the African American contributions to this nation’s history and society, which, until recently, have at best been grossly ignored, and at worst stolen and absorbed into white narratives as their own. Faustine’s series looks at America’s monuments and how history is celebrated and, she says, “how history is turned around. What is left out, what is included, what are the lies. And, who gets celebrated.”

Faustine’s work isn’t a mere reductionist political statement, a protest to the past. Many American monuments and commemorative statues lionize historical figures who’ve committed atrocities against their own people, especially their fellow citizens of color. Faustine’s work asks instead to expose the real events and reinsert those truths into the narratives that comprise American history. In the work “In Praise of Famous Men No More, Museum of Natural History,” is depicted the statue of Teddy Roosevelt outside New York’s American Museum of Natural History, where the infamous “Rough Rider” on horseback is flanked by both an African man and an Indigenous chief. Through her camera’s focus on an element in front of the statue, Faustine slashes the scene with a thick red line, which, to her, represented the erasure of African American history embedded in America’s most iconic monuments.. That statue was vandalized as part of the “Decolonize This Place” protests, which partially inspired Faustine, but partially tripped her. “I go back and forth. Even as a descendent of enslaved people. It is very hard, because this stuff has been ingrained in us. We have been taught to think a certain way about our country and our presidents. But when I look at the statue, it does bother me that they are below him.” The statue has since been removed.

About the Artist
Nona Faustine is an award-winning photographer and visual artist born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts and The International Center of Photography at Bard College’s MFA program. Her work focuses on history, identity, representation, evoking a critical and emotional understanding of the past, and proposes a deeper examination of contemporary racial and gender stereotypes.

Faustine’s images have received worldwide acclaim and have been published in a variety of national and international media outlets such as Artforum, New York Times, Huffington Post, Hyperallergic, The Guardian, New Yorker Magazine, and Los Angeles Times, among many others. Faustine’s work have been exhibited at Harvard University, Rutgers University, Maryland State University, the Studio Museum of Harlem, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Schomburg Center for Black Research in Harlem, the International Center of Photography, Saint Johns Divine Cathedral, Tomie Ohtake Institute in Sao Paulo, among other institutions. Her work is in the collection of the David C. Driskell Center at Maryland State University, the Studio Museum of Harlem, the Brooklyn Museum, and recently, the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2019, Faustine was the recipient of the NYSCA/NYFA Fellowship, Colene Brown Art Prize, Finalist in the Outwinn Boochever Competition of the National Portrait Gallery and selected to be the first inaugural class of Kehinde Wiley’s Black Rock Senegal Residency.

View Larger Image In Praise of Famous Men No More

IOU

Kay Rosen IOU 2017 Letterpress print on board

Edition of 20
Image/paper size: 25 x 44 inches (63.5 x 111.8 cm)
Signed, dated and numbered on reverse in graphite
(Inventory #28828)

For anyone who has followed the attempts by the corporation, Energy Transfer Partners, to build the Dakota Access Pipeline less than one mile from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, the message of the letterpress work “IOU” will be clear: both a promise and an apology to that tribe, and by extension, to the many other indigenous peoples whose rights and treaties have been trampled over the years. The land that is threatened was given to the Sioux tribe in the 1851 Laramie Treaty, although the government tried to reduce it later. The last leg of the pipeline route will pass under the Missouri River and threaten the reservation’s drinking water and the drinking water of millions of downstream residents, not to mention the pipeline’s contribution to global warming and its encroachment on sacred burial sites. This segment of the pipeline was originally supposed to be built at Bismark, but it was rerouted because it might threaten the drinking water of Bismark’s residents. As the protocol for approval of these pipelines, such as a thorough Environmental Impact Study, is radically altered by Trump’s orders, “IOU” fashions a simple message out of the heart of the Sioux tribe’s name. Luckily, as of July 6 of this year, a federal court ruled that all plans must be halted while the government conducts a full-fledged analysis examining the risk the pipeline poses to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Untitled (Blue) [from the Anonymous series] (1)

Suara Welitoff Untitled (Blue) [from the Anonymous series] (1) 2008 Pigment-based photograph

Edition of 10
Image/paper size: 26 5/8 x 40 inches (67.6 x 101.6 cm)
Signed and dated
(Inventory #24999)

“Suara Welitoff’s appropriations of the past are a strategy for summoning an awareness of time as we are living it now. Her provocative works destabilize relations between past and present, between fictional and lived experience, between original and reimagined occurrences. Actions and expressions are distilled into their most reductive forms. Rejecting technical strategies for control and prevailing standards of digital perfection, Welitoff embraces the formal potential of accidents and inaccuracies, including pixilation and audio-visual glitches, viewing them as chances to improvise. Her works reveal a revisionist aesthetic and underscore the role of subjectivity in creating meaning. At a time when the acts of selecting, modifying, and recirculating are increasingly central to creation and communication, Welitoff’s works invite us to consider how our sensory relations to the mediated world are forever under revision.” (Susan L. Stoops, Independent Curator of Contemporary Art)

In the work included in “Not So Simple”, Welitoff takes a found media image out of context and abstracts it to produce a blurred, schematic and monochromatic patch of color in motion. The work freezes a brief instant of an action. Through eliminating information contained in the original material, Welitoff transposes the images into the free formal language of art.

Suara Welitoff (b. 1951, Jersey City, New Jersey) lives and works in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since 1998, her work has been included in exhibitions and screenings throughout the
United States and Europe. Her one-person exhibitions include shows at Krakow Witkin Gallery, Boston; Anthony Greaney, Somerville, Massachusetts; 186 Carpenter, Providence; Document, Chicago; James Harris Gallery, Seattle; Le Rete Projects, Milan; the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University, Boston and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She has participated in group exhibitions with Galerie Anita Beckers, Frankfurt; Regina Rex at Bunker259, Brooklyn; Marburger Kunstverein, Marburg, Germany; deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts; Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts; Strozzina CCC, Florence; Performa 05 at Participant Inc., New York; NGBK, Berlin; Threadwaxing Space, New York; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

Welitoff’s works are in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Worcester Art Museum; deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum; List Visual Arts Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; Deutsche Bank, New York; Fidelity Investments, Boston; Barr Foundation, Boston; and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, in addition to numerous private collections. Welitoff is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum Rappaport Prize (2012), the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2009), and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Maud Morgan Prize (2002).