Western Project is proud to present five controversial and historically influential artists from Southern California. All share a practice which includes performance, photography, sculpture and installation. All share the disease of individual thinking; all have created primary information. Each deals with the corporeal body - as an instrument, icon, laboratory or metaphor. Kim Jones, the notorious 'Mudman' seen around Los Angeles from the early 1970's to the early 1980's, addresses war, sex and alienation. A contemporary of Chris Burden and Paul McCarthy, his work uses materials such as mud, sticks, clothing, and old photographs to create haunting images that escape academic definitions. Informed by his time serving in Viet Nam, the work is emotional and instinctive; barbarous and transgressive. His drawings describe a lustful appetite for erasing the civil for the primal; an unvarnished witnessing of human actions.
Johanna Went is infamous for her performances beginning in the late 1970's at venues such as the Hong Kong Café and LACE in Los Angeles. Immersed in the early punk scene, her blood and gut spilling, bizarrely costumed shows pioneered a path for artists such as Ron Athey and Karen Finley. Grey-ish Gardens is an installation work for this exhibition. It will include video loops of performances and a metaphysical garden alluding to the interior/exterior boundary deterioration in the Mayles' film of Grey Gardens. Her live works have often been described as chaotic and shamanistic; she is a conjurer of the moment - an autonomous universe spun into visibility.
Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose spent 16 years together making art - on the fringe, as true outsiders. Cystic fibrosis was Flanagan's disease and his muse (alongside his partner Sheree); he used poetry, writing, music, video and sculpture to talk about control, pain, guilt, boredom, and the all aspects of life, sex and death. Rose documented and photographed her partner daily in highly structured S & M practices. The core of their work is based in consensuality, creating a channel to consciously explore power, liberation and revelation. By transforming their private life into performance art, their work is incisive and confrontational; the 'art' veneer is dissolved with the impolite, much unedited, human emotions, language and humor; and the nearness of death is ever present, making everything a relevant choice. While unorthodox and raw, Flanagan and Rose's work is riveting and humane. External of the formal art world in the 1980's, their influence can be seen in their friends and artists, Mike Kelly, Jim Shaw, Dennis Cooper and others.
Kim Jones is represented in New York by Pierogi Gallery and whose retrospective, 'Mudman : The Odyssey of Kim Jones' recently travelled the US. He has shown extensively both internationally and in the United States. He is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and LACMA.
Johanna Went has performed at: John's Place, Hong Kong Café, Beyond Baroque, the Whiskey, Club Lingerie, and the Music Machine, LACE, los Angeles, New Image Art, West Hollywood, COCA, Seattle, UCLA Schoenberg Hall, The Shaffy Theater, Amsterdam, The Magic Theater, San Francisco, The Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, Franklin Furnace,, New York, Track 16 Gallery, Los Angeles, and The Kitchen, New York. Her work has been reviewed in Slash magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Village Voice, L.A. Weekly, and was featured in ReSearch magazine. Her work was also included in a survey of the LA performance scene, The Other Los Angeles, by Meiling Cheng. She has appeared in The Living End, directed by Greg Araki, and Grief, directed by Richard Glatzer.
Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose have exhibited at Beyond Baroque, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Otis College of Art and Design, Santa Monica Museum, Exit Art and the New Museum in New York, the Musée d´art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland, and more recently at the Tate Liverpool in Liverpool, England, the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, and the Hamburg Kunsthalle in Hamburg, Germany. They have been written about in REsearch magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Village Voice and numerous publications. Flanagan is the subject of: Sick: the Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, by Kirby Dick. He is also featured in music videos directed by Jonathan Reiss for Danzig, Nine Inch Nails and Mind Bomb. Flanagan and Rose are represented by Country Club Gallery and Western Project.