Exhibit: COTTAGE INDUSTRY
Friday, November 13, 2015 - Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Mary Walling Blackburn + Rafael Kelman
Curated by Janna Dyk
“MAN, PLANT YOUR OWN COMMUNITY-BASED ♂ ANTI FERTILITY GARDEN” – excerpt from exhibition poster text
Together, Mary Walling Blackburn and Rafael Kelman exhibit works that animate their own reproductive, economic and artistic collaboration as wet and dry; burden and beast; hoot and whimper. The works are animated by research into the historical production of citizen-workers through reproduction and reproduction as forced labor (Silvia Federici), as well as the problem of the couple as core building block of capitalism (Guy Hocquenghem). The selected works use Walling Blackburn’s ♂ ANTI FERTILITY GARDEN project, a response to national and state pressures on women’s reproductive rights, as a departure point.
Included are Studies for Seed Bags, 2015, a series of paintings executed on plastic, sandpaper, and wood that are simultaneously self-portraits, nude studies, and packaging designs. For this work, Kelman repurposed Walling Blackburn’s private snapshots of himself, the visual history of the seed packet, and his own WASPish prudishness. In Seed Bags, 2015, the aforementioned paintings are reproduced as product labels for sets of plastic seed bags containing neem, papaya, skunkbush sumac, myrtle, and cottonseed, all plants that mediate male fertility. In Cribby Cribby, 2015, a painted hex on an infant bedsheet, Walling Blackburn uses initials to suggest which adult demagogues might be subject to an infertility spell. Two of Walling Blackburn’s sculptures, Infertile Myrtle, 2015, and Italian Cod Pack, 2015, materially draw from Shaker and ancient Roman medicinal industries. Family Residency, 2015, incorporates observations from the Soviet neuropsychologist, A. Luria’s studies on head wounds, Emily Dickinson’s letters regarding her mother’s death, and field notes on creatures living on the grounds of an artist residency; these elements are rendered as a diagrammatic drawing on a bedsheet, formulating a meditation on the artist as mother and the mother’s artist as collaborator. Lastly, a series of posters featuring herbs that mediate the fertility of men have been produced to accompany the show. Walling Blackburn and Kelman will distribute these posters throughout the Greenpoint neighborhood where Walling Blackburn lived as a bachelor in a basement until 2012.
Mary Walling Blackburn (b.1972, Orange, California) and Rafael Kelman (b.1986, Randolph, Vermont) customarily work independently of one another. Their only prior official collaboration was WMYN, a semi-fictional feminist radio station on the brink, broadcast at EFA Project Space as part of Failing to Levitate (New York). In April 2016, Walling Blackburn will be screening SMS Iran, a collaboration with Naeem Mohaiemen, at Centre Pompidou, Paris. Kelman will be showing part of his ongoing project Gigantomachy in “Son,” an upcoming show (April 2016) at inCube Arts in New York. Headlands Center for the Arts materially supported the production of the work for this exhibition.
This exhibition is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and additionally in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.
COTTAGE INDUSTRY is the third in a series of exhibitions considering artists who negotiate, reference, or embody socio-political concerns in their work.
For more information please contact the curator, Janna Dyk, firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery Hours are Thursday – Tuesday, 12-5PM, or by appointment. The gallery will be closed Tuesday November 24 – Friday November 27th for Thanksgiving, as well as December 24th, 25th, and 27th and January 1st. Please call ahead for holiday hours.