One on One: A Suite of Solo Shows
One on One is a suite of solo shows by Terry Allen, Hasan Elahi, McCallum & Tarry, and Kaari Upson. One on One compiles a diverse range of mediums, including video, painting, drawing, installation, and computer dialogue, to engender a unique exploration of the social, the psychological, and the personal through the individual.
Each of the five artists in One on One profoundly examines the life of one person. The goal of each examination is different, as are the means and the findings. But in each case, the artists use their subjects as mirrors, not only for themselves, but also for the viewers. We are drawn into the intimacy of the exchange and face different aspects of ourselves in the artists and their subjects. Organized by Laura Steward, SITE Santa Fe’s Phillips Director, and Janet Dees, Thaw Curatorial Fellow, One on One is a psychologically charged exhibition that invites us into expanded portraits of many people.
Artist, playwright, and musician Terry Allen examines an episode in the life of the similarly polymathic artist Antonin Artaud. Throughout his life, Artaud suffered a number of psychological crises, resulting in his repeated and lengthy institutionalization. In 1937, Artaud went to Ireland to return to the Irish people what he believed was the staff of St. George. He was involved in an altercation with the Dublin police and was subsequently deported. Because of his deteriorating psychological state, he was chained to a cot in the hull of the ship Washington for the journey back to France. This journey serves as the inspiration for Allen’s Ghost Ship Rodez, Allen’s presentation within One on One.
Taking its title from the French mental institution “Rodez,” where Artaud spent a number of years after his deportation from Ireland, this exhibition will consist of room-sized multimedia works blending sculpture and video. A portion of the exhibition will invoke the physical environment of the Washington. Another will include a larger-than-life-size figure Momo lo Mismo, that refers to Artaud and the “Daughter of the Heart to be Born,” an archetype representing all the women in Artaud’s life. Although these works allude to the physical realities of Artaud’s life, their video components explore Artaud’s mindscape, giving form to psychological space. In addition, Allen will present a large suite of works on paper entitled The Momo Chronicles, loosely based on Artaud’s 1936 journey to Mexico to partake in the ceremonies of the Tarahumara Indians. Allen invites us to take a journey into the depths of Artaud’s mind as he sees it — a place where the boundaries of time and space are broken, where the past and future come together in the present.
In conjunction with his exhibition at SITE, Allen is planning a theater piece, Ghost Ship Rodez, to be performed at The Lensic Performing Arts Center on April 9, 2010. Also forthcoming in the spring of 2010 is a monograph on the artist, Terry Allen, to be published by University of Texas Press, with a text by Dave Hickey, and essays by Marcia Tucker and Michael Ventura.
The American artist Hasan Elahi, falsely accused by a misinformed neighbor of involvement in the 9/11 terrorists plots, has meticulously documented his life since then and presented his documents on the internet for all to see. While Elahi is not investigating another individual, he is obsessively using technology to track himself, as an exposé of modern life, particularly in a post-9/11 world of surveillance, homeland security, and the Patriot Act.
SITE Santa Fe will feature Elahi’s ongoing project, Tracking Transience: The Orwell Project, a live feed that constantly transmits his exact location and complementary photographic documentation. In one sense, Tracking Transience: The Orwell Project is a self-tracking device that presents “an exaggerated version of the life we live in now.” Through this infatuation with the self, Elahi exposes the political, technological, and social systems that inform the modern experience.
McCallum & Tarry
In their passionate, poetic exchanges, documented in video and other means, McCallum & Tarry, an interracial husband and wife team, seek to complicate and overcome the archetypical binary “white man/ black woman” in their work. By exploring their relationships to each other, McCallum & Tarry are in fact investigating race in the cultural, historical, and sociopolitical contexts.
One on One will feature three works by McCallum & Tarry: Topsy Turvy, Cut, and Exchange. Topsy Turvy is a video, sculpture, and historical collection that appropriates the “twinning” or “topsy turvy” dolls of the 19th century. Using sculptural representations of themselves, McCallum & Tarry examine the duality between white and black, male and female, father and mother. Cut is a video work in which McCallum & Tarry cut each other’s hair. This work was influenced by photographs of Nazi collaborators in post-World War II France whose hair was shorn as a form of punishment. With references to punishment (prisons), possession (slavery), and retribution, Cut represents an act of collaboration, dominance and submission, and control. By altering the physical identities of one another, the artists create a study of race, power, and identity. Exchange draws inspiration from the “one drop rule” which declared that a person with
any African- American heritage was black. Through a ritual exchange of their blood and metaphorically becoming one another, McCallum & Tarry navigate themes of race and social hierarchy. McCallum & Tarry use their own identity as an interracial couple to explore the legacy and continuity of racism.
Kaari Upson keeps an extensive archive of a man named Larry. Initially based on the life of a real person, Larry has become more fiction than fact, and Upson’s relentless investigation of the minutia of his life offers extraordinary insight into the mind of the artist herself. Through an archival method, Upson has given Larry a multifaceted life while simultaneously assimilating her life with his. In her own words, “The objective reality of the man I construct collapses into the subjective fiction I create, until they merge and I am more him than he is.” Kaari’s practice includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, and video pieces. In her “kiss” paintings, she paints a portrait of Larry and a self-portrait, then smashes them both together, resulting in a diptych that is an impastoed representation of “self” and “other”. Upson made a dummy of Larry and in her video piece, As Long as it Takes – Part I: The Head, she meticulously removes his head and places it over her own.
By confusing the boundaries between reality and fiction, self and other, Upson challenges the viewer to question his/her perspective and identity. As Upson summarizes, “The challenge of defining the ‘me’ in this project is a final manifestation of the loss of perspective [that] it presents.” One on One will feature the most complete presentation of the Larry Project to date, including materials from the “archives,” sculptures, drawings, paintings, and videos.
These exhibitions are generously funded by the Board of Directors as well as by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Terry Allen is made possible in part by a generous grant from Lannan Foundation.
Tracking Transience: The Orwell Project is a project of Creative Capital, which receives support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Ford Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, the LEF Foundation, The Muriel Pollia Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, the TOBY Fund, the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, and more than 130 other individuals and institutional donors