Intensive Nesting

Loretta Fahrenholz, Allison Katz, Tiziana La Melia, Keith Mayerson, Erin Jane Nelson, Brad Phillips, Nicole Wermers

Works in the exhibition

An inventory of every item housed in her small apartment is recorded, from a yet unopened bottle of Windex, to its already half empty counterpart, a collection of books, three yet-to-be-watched bootlegged seasons of Lost, a stack of expired passports, a variety of cacti and interesting mugs, and finally a toothbrush. Every time she receives a paycheck she adds to this inventory. When trash day comes around, items are removed. Day-by-day drudgery is mitigated by her favourite piece of furniture (a 1970's velvet upholstered chair with a strangely long back). She is reassured and composes her character through both small domestic endeavours and the consolation brought by each item she folds into her personal space.

Focusing on the poetics and pleasure of personal spaces, Intensive Nesting examines how the domestic is reorganized / disorganized as a site of disobedience. Rather than focus on the domestic's ritualization into the feminine--where discourse is transformed into gossip, labour into chores--this exhibition emphasizes the domestic as both a part of and apart from the public, considering its confines as a zone where new rules and structures are erected to befit personal satisfaction. From this perspective, the private realm functions as a portal, wherein symbols circulating in the public domain gain new meaning through their manipulation and, ultimately, their subversion. The exhibition takes as its starting point that the domestic is at once a retreat and an enclosure, quivering with the tension of its continual exposure to the outside world.

The work by the artists grouped in Intensive Nesting focus on private realms, developing narrative-like structures that move in and out of these settings, making clear their porous quality. Biography (and its irreducibility to one person or reality) is the chosen device for Brad Phillips. Derived from personal photographs often taken within his home and studio, Phillips' paintings depict the annals of the artist's life while skewing expectations of reality.

Allison Katz's paintings also toy with the constraints of the first-person subject. Her work involves self-appropriation and expands centrifugally from her subject position. At the same time, Katz gives equal weight to outside sources, subjects, and objects, drawing them into an intimate realm. 

Working in a language of comics, Keith Mayerson disrupts traditional understandings of autobiography, using non-linear narratives to encompass both the artist's life and subjects drawn from American post-war history.  The James Dean Family Farmhouse depicts Dean's rural home. The sharp contrast between its domestic quaintness and the heartthrob's popular image as a rebel wanderer kneads public persona against private life, communal idolatry contrasting with domestic seclusion. 

Erin Jane Nelson's quilt works materialize a rhizomatic network where home and computer converge.  Nelson draws from two definitions of the obscure term, Dylan, a word for glassware trinkets that also describes an outdated computer programming script from the 1990's. This juncture is a carnivelesque medley that returns to the origin of the former's Venetian fabrication. 

Loretta Fahrenholz's Implosion makes explicit the web of social and economic pressures that define our daily life and actions within it.  With a winding script by Kathy Acker, Fahrenholz's complex and disorienting video visits French Revolutionaries in post-9/11 Manhattan.  Marooned together in a high-rise hotel room and consumed by their portable devices, her characters negotiate an environment as temporally and technologically limitless as it is claustrophobic. 

Eschewing a history that can firmly occupy safety or vulnerability, Tiziana La Melia reimagines Mark Twain's Aquarium Club, a billiard room dedicated to his "angel fish"-- a group of 10 to 16 year old girls whom the author assumed as surrogate granddaughters.  The slippage between history and writing in La Melia's work also plots the meeting point of several unexpected places and persons, and the role nomination takes in anchoring these disparate elements. 

Nicole Wermers' sculptures marry the formal considerations of Modernism with the design of daily life and its consumer goods. The seemingly mundane objects that make up day-to-day living are reconsidered as active vessels though which social, power, and economic relations are communicated.