In Gallery 2, Maria Petschnig will present "With the Door Closed", a mixed-media installation that will include the single-channel video “An Evening at Home'” and a new series of photographs. This is Petschnig’s first show at Western Exhibitions and her first solo show in Chicago.
Petschnig will transform Gallery 2 at Western Exhibitions into a familiar domestic setting – viewers enter through a newly installed door and will encounter unframed photographs on walls painted a taupe color, throw-rugs on the floor and a small flat-screen monitor on a TV stand in the corner. Her photographs are carefully cropped selections of the artist performing alone in front of a mirror while wearing colorful sculpture/clothing hybrids of the artists making. While the images point to voyeuristic impulses, body art, pin-up photos, and even BDSM imagery, Petschnig sees these photographs very much as paintings: formal, abstract compositions that she creates with the body and fabric (she was originally trained as a painter).
On the monitor “An Evening at Home” plays. This single-channel video, created specifically for this show, seems to depict a surreptitiously recorded tape of the artist in a bedroom in the evening, dressed in one of her sculptural pieces that she uses for her photographs. She poses in various situations, unaware of the camera, leading the viewer to assume these are the moments that take place in between her intimate performances, the time to unwind after she has taken photographs of herself, in that particular room. This room functions as the private stage for her actions.
Petschnig’s performances, videos and photography investigate the boundaries of body and self, juxtaposing an eroticized self-exposure with elements of social and sexual repression. Petschnig’s repetitive use of costuming acts as a performative device, visual signifier and method of relational engagement. Petschnig’s carefully considered viewing environments deny the privilege of safe and passive observation, further heightening the awareness of one's voyeuristic inclinations.
Maria Petschnig was born in Klagenfurt, Austria in 1977 and currently lives and works in New York. Her recent solo show in 2011 at On Stellar Rays in New York City was reviewed in Artnet and her work was included in “Commercial Break” as part of Garage Projects, curated by Neville Wakefield for the 54th Venice Biennale. In 2010 she had a solo exhibition at the Stadtturmgalerie, Innsbruck, Austria with accompanying catalog. Petschnig will be included in “Beauty Contest” The Austrian Cultural Forum New York, NY this fall and her work was recently on view in Greater New York 2010 at MoMA/PS1, Queens, NY (2010); Which Witch is Which? and/or Summertime at White Flag Projects, St Louis, MO (2010); Robert Melee's Talent Show at The Kitchen, New York, NY (2010); Triennale Linz 1.0 at Museum of Modern Art, Linz-Lentos, Austria; Alpha & at On Stellar Rays, New York, NY (2010); Born to Perform at 179 Canal, New York, NY (2009).