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Gustave Courbet’s L'Origine du monde was painted in 1866 and became famous for redefining the limits of realism and more specifically the idealized female nude, with its smooth skin and strategically placed veils. 

Kentucky-based Letitia Quesenberry’s “Hyperspace 15” is presented in the Proxy Gallery as a kinetic light box utilizing semi-opaque layered shapes and LEDs. Quesenberry sees it as an attention-activation device, a curative portal.

The colored LEDs cycle slowly through a range of colors. When cycling, the combination of semi-opaque layers illuminated by the slowly changing lights creates a pulsing visual effect. Shapes and colors advance and recede in an endless hypnotic loop. The addition of the mirrors turns it into a kind of open infinity box. The use of filters, color and light as a means to activate the boundaries of optical experience, seeks to destabilize what is immediately visible. This is a different kind of veiling that reveals and conceals at the same time.

The title of this piece is the techno-sounding “Hyperspace 15,” though Quesenberry slyly adds that it could also be called “Origin of the New World,” which brings us back to the vertical vaginal shape that pulses and changes colors. While the genital shape is abstracted and even more separated from the putative body fragment in Courbet, it shares the “in-your-face” placement and the demand to be noticed and considered.

Letitia Quesenberry

February 1 to February 29, 2020

The Law of the Excluded Middle – In Calculation is part of an ongoing project that spans across several reiterations of a single digital video source. This rendition, In Calculation, is intended to be seen solely through the device screen of the viewer. The 60 second digital recording is played through the display of a smartphone housed within the Proxy Gallery.

What you are now seeing in your smartphone, computer or tablet, is not a documentation of an exhibition, but the exhibition itself. It is a digital video playing on a smart phone, placed in a real gallery space, video recorded on another device, and experienced again through a digital screen.  It is a “motion picture” with photography, text, video collage and motion. There is video of paper collage, upside-down scrolling typeface in Chinese and English, video “noise” and signifiers of handmade drawing. 

Its existence in the Proxy Gallery “elevates” it to the status of an art exhibition, not a social media post. Rather than a lamentation of how technology robs us of connectedness, Sun proposes here a connection that is im-mediate and mediated at the same time. Thus the “information” or visual incident exists in a back-and-forth dialogue of the digital with the analog, back to digital, etc. 

​Sun’s series recreates the processes in which information is encoded, recoded, restaged, received and interpreted. The various renditions mimic a dissemination process: how data flows through our countless networks of communication. The contents of the messages are altered and re-enabled each time to inhabit a new digital vessel. The result is a sequence of experiences that question appearance vs. reality, giving equal credence to each.  

*The law of excluded middle means that a statement is either true or false. There is no middle ground.

Tianyi Sun

August 15-September 15, 2020

Stein is a well-known constructor of anti-acronyms, see YIMBYSSIMA (Yes in my Back Yard) . Make America Hopeful Again (MAHA) is her acronym that works as an intervention on D. Trump’s MAGA, and is an unapologetic piece of agitprop (“dollhouse activism” as she calls it) urging us all to demonstrate and vote in the upcoming election. 

In a gallery densely packed with images and objects, we see the “walls” and “floor” of the gallery with pasted photos of demonstrations  protesting the police murder of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, the Women’s demonstration following the  2016 election and every January since, and  the photo of a black demonstrator with VOTE painted on his forehead. On a plexiglass mini ballot box is another photo of a capped and masked demonstrator with Vote on the mask. Finally, in the wake of the removal of racist statues from public places is a toppled statue of Trump, fallen next to the ballot box. Finally, like battlements, the four solid wooden stamping cubes above the gallery, both announce the title and reinforce the message, while mirroring the cubical gallery itself.

Sally Stein

August 17-September 30, 2020

Artist Mark Farina has seeded 2 figurative sculptures (figurines of Joe Biden and Donald Trump) with chia seeds. He plans to  watch their daily growth in a controlled stage or "proxy box" up until a winner is declared on or after November 3, 2020. The terra cotta Chia Pets are molded terra cotta pots; in this case, in the likeness of the candidates. When water is added, the Chia Pets sprout green “hair” at the top.

Science and superstition are supposed to be opposites, but in a goofy satire of both scientific experiments and divinations, Farina is practicing an election agnosticism of sorts, seeking advance knowledge of the unknown by supernatural means. By paying attention to the phases of the moon and the agricultural growth of seeds, he is seeking to apply the scientific method by doing a side-by-side comparison of two subjects to inevitably see different results. 

According to Farina, seeding could be viewed as voting, growth spurts as tallying votes, hence the title, Supersede.

Mark Farina

October 1 to November 3, 2020

Untitled Handbag: Handbag, shark, tape, thread, acrylic, acetate and floating shelf with LED lights. 2019.

A Luis Vuitton handbag is sitting on a shelf at eye level. A front flap is peeled back to reveal a window with a pretty little “shark” inside, floating as if in an aquarium and lit from below.  

Friedberg says that she likes to hide quiet things behind loud ones; Here all the elements are loud: This bag is expensive; it’s a capitalist luxury and status symbol for class, taste and success. Often made of exotic animal skin (snake or alligator) it signifies the taming of the wild, and also absorbs some of wildlife’s aggressiveness into a version of womanhood. 

What about the “shark” seen through the window? The shark is a predator par excellence, a misunderstood animal, that, like a snake, is seen as fearsome, dangerous, evil. The fact that the “shark” is in fact a plastic toy, underscores the distance between what it is and what it stands for.

​The bag, meant to conceal what a woman carries with her, is now an open window looking inside.The viewer will think of Damien Hirst and his animals, specifically the 27 sharks that he has reportedly used in his work about death and/as spectacle. 

With Untitled Handbag Friedberg encourages a collision of symbolic value and price, both in terms of the handbag as commodity and in terms of the value of the piece as art, and art as commodity. This is not new to anyone who remembers the historic collaboration of Takashi Murakami with LV. 

 Amy Friedberg’s work succeeds in positioning the artist as both resistant to and complicit with a certain performance of womanhood in the capitalist marketplace: feminine, polite, aesthetic and aggressive, alternating positions as object of desire and desiring objects.

Amy Friedberg

November 15-December 31, 2020

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