Opening reception: March 6th, 5-7pm
Shoshana Wayne Gallery is pleased present its second solo exhibition of new work by
Oliver Michaels. This new show takes the form of an installation of seven new
sculptures, each structure acting as a stage for the projected videos. These videos
animate images of sculptures taken from museum postcards so it appears the figures
are talking. An act that simultaneously reveres, abstracts and defaces the chosen
works, he hijacks the objects’ forms to create his own theatrical appropriations.
The scripts for the sculptures’ voices are composites of fragments taken from sourced
texts that form into disordered aggregates. In Lover’s, a black bronze bust of Lincoln
asserts a monologue composed of hundreds of descriptions of objects, a male version
of Gertrude Steins' Tender Buttons creating a perpetual procession of descriptive
statements. In ‘Something Else Out There’, a small figurine gives endless directions that
take the viewer on a peripatetic conceptual journey through ideas of contemporary
place. The resulting dichotomy between the object and the conjured images traverses
the line between figure and landscape.
In Chorus Line, we are presented with four projections of white marble busts that
resemble a religious ceremony or Greek chorus. Their dialogue is a made up of texts
that are invested in the melancholic: literature ranging from the poems of the Graveyard
School to horror writing by unknown authors. Their interaction plays out as a sermon
we can only partially follow, centered-around the story of a torturous spiritual voyage of
enlightenment. The theatrical am-dram performances give the sculptures a perverse
fallibility and a political polemic.
Joe’s Farewell presents a man in an ornament that depicts the scene of a young couple
at a hearth. One partner is stuck engaging in an over-personal word association in front
of his inert stoneware counterpart. Like Frankenstein’s monster, the subjects seem to
have suffered a loss of mental faculties in their reincarnation, and are now engaged in
their own detailed maniacal transactions. And within this, there is an unseemly comedy
of inappropriate behavior.
Although the subjects in Michaels' work present themselves with a type of authority,
they are broken and impossibly fragile. It is in this defectiveness that the works seem
to hold an odd insight or promote the possibility for compassion. Dark and dry and
ever questioning, these new videos show people defiant and vulnerable...
Oliver Michaels lives and works in New York. He received his BA in Fine Arts from
Central Saint Martins School of Art, London. His work has been shown at P.S.1, Long
Island City, NY, the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, the Cobra Museum
voor Moderne Kunst, Amsterdam, the Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris, France and the
Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona, Spain to name a few. In 2005
Michaels’ work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Herzilya Museum of
Contemporary Art, Israel. Michael’s videos are included in the permanent collections of
the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, and
the Krefelder Kunstmuseen, Krefeld Germany.