18 Wooster Street
We Are Electric brought together works that explored mental and ethereal terrain. The 12 artists in the exhibition created works that suggested a new psychedelic and spiritual aesthetic. Personal totems, icons, mysteries, and mythologies were manifested in a variety of media, including sculpture, painting, and collage. Curated by Chris Perez/Ratio3, We Are Electric was on view from November 8 to December 20, 2003. The participating artists were as follows; Jose Alvarez (New York), Hisham Akira Bharoocha (New York), Christopher Garrett (San Francisco), Robert Gutierrez (San Francisco), Tim Hawkinson (Los Angeles), Scott Hewicker (San Francisco), Let’s Be Active (San Francisco), Keegan McHargue (Elsewhere), Wangechi Mutu (New York), Amy Sarkisian (Los Angeles), Matthew Ronay (New York), and Michael Velliquette (San Antonio).
One aspect of Jose Alvarez's work was the psychology of belief, investigating how people believe and the conditions necessary for that belief to be established as "truth." Expanding on the aesthetic and conceptual underpinnings of his initial performances, Alvarez explored issues of power and faith with a new body of work that he called "crystal paintings." He utilized rock crystals to allude to the way in which people tend to invest objects with power, hoping to subject themselves to the object’s "aura."
Hisham Akira Bharoocha's wall collage consisted of one central photographic image which referenced humans' interactions with nature in urban environments. Beginning at the central image, cut paper and painted shapes poured out of the image, bursting outwards like an explosion. Bharoocha viewed the piece as a visualization of the feeling of bliss and peace experienced within the chaos of daily life.
Christopher Garrett showed new drawings and sculptures. Themes of sexual and social anxiety came alive in his drawings, while the sculptures further highlighted feelings of fear and confusion.
Robert Gutierrez’s paintings depicted gouged out landscapes with poisonous elements seeping within the crevice and cracks. Intricately painted, quasi-spiritual landmarks littered the work and orgies of bodies and color abounded. Gutierrez’s figures often appear locked in a struggle over power of out-of-control environments teeming with sex and mystery.
Combining a keen exploration of materials and an accomplished sense of craft, Tim Hawkinson created work that appeared both disturbing and humorous. Hawkinson made two new works for the exhibition, including a large photo collage that continued his on-going creation of mind-bending self-portraits. The other piece subtly referenced Donatello’s St. Mary Magdalen and Victor Hugo’s initial drawings as the inspiration for a large, tangled form that hung from the ceiling.
Scott Hewicker unveiled a new painting entitled King of Kings. The piece depicted a large tree comprised of smaller trees, creating a network that relied on itself to survive yet was threatened to sag under its own weight. Hewicker used the tree form to examine the growth of numerous possibilities which lead only to unreachable goals. Playing with the Christian exaltation "King of Kings,” Hewicker’s idea of a tree of trees is something that inspires so much awe that it borders on repulsion.
Expanding upon his imagery of mythic figures and disjointed shapes, Keegan McHargue’s installation was comprised of several new paintings on panel and on the wall, as well as small house-like structures. Utilizing a style reminiscent of Islamic paintings, McHargue painted patterns and figures into a flat landscape, creating a subtle tension between perspective and form.
Wangechi Mutu’s wall drawing was based on the form of a centipede, which in various African mythologies represented and foretold the introduction of the railroad to the African continent. Mutu used the centipede as a spine for a narrative filled with both personal and historic moments in African history. Teeming with female forms and imagery borrowed from fairy tales, Mutu laced the piece with a satirical tone and heavy references to wars and other tragic occurrences.
Matthew Ronay created sculptures that were atmospherically specific yet open-ended in their final reading. Ronay presented two new large works; one being the first sampling of a large series which encapsulated imagined cultural moments in the 1970s. Infected Carrot told the story of when humans abandoned looking for economic and social resources on the surface of the earth, and the resulting consequences of a dire chain reaction.
Amy Sarkisian showed seven enlarged bat heads accompanied by seven bat houses. Exaggerated in scale, the bat heads simultaneously appeared comical and sinister. Sarkisian brought attention to the subtle details of these small, winged creatures which few have the chance to examine closely. The bat houses stood impaled on tall posts yet remained fully functional. Sarkisian adorned the houses with metal studs and spikes, beckoning wandering bats and children of the night who sought shelter.
Michael Velliquette’s work came from the persistent questioning of his place in the world and an interest in the idea of doppelgangers, or doubles. Velliquette’s The Bilocater was a 20-foot tall mobile comprised of hand-cut double-sided profiles of the artist’s face. The mobile was activated by subtle air currents, kinetically expressing both random and controlled movements, while creating a playful metaphor for the ever-changing nature of life.
Let’s Be Active, founded by Jarrett Mitchell in 2002, presented a physical manifestation of a journey to the center of Babylon. Viewers were welcome to enter and pass through the piece, experiencing their lives until they die, and to die until they live again.
May sadness and suffering end. May confusion be dispersed. May all be happy and aware.
About the curator: Chris Perez is the owner/director of Ratio 3, an access point for contemporary art based in San Francisco. His most recent actions include: Phantom Arch (White Columns, New York City), Thee Magick Boxx (New York City) and Taqueria Cancun: The San Francisco Hook-up (Allston Skirt Gallery, Boston). Perez previously worked as the curatorial assistant for contemporary art at the Whitney Museum of American Art, helping organize Bitstreams and the 2002 Biennial Exhibition. Prior to that, he worked at the CCAC Institute in San Francisco.
March 8 - 11, 2018
We will present a special solo project by the artist JR.
Image: JR, Migrants, Walking New York City, 2015
April - May 2018
18 Wooster Street
76 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013
Monday – Friday
10 AM – 6 PM
Tuesday – Saturday
Noon – 6 PM
The gallery reopens with People in April 2018.
+1 (212) 343-7300
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