To compliment Frances Trombly: Paintings on view in the main gallery, Girls' Club presents Fascimile, a group exhibition in its mezzanine space. No artist works in isolation, and as we reviewed works in the collection of Francie Bishop Good + David Horvitz, as well as those of artists working in our community and beyond, we discovered many overlapping tendencies that echo Trombly’s practice.
Broadly, Facsimile refers to the creation of stand-ins or replicas that resemble recognizable images, that seem to be familiar things. Rather than showing the viewer something completely new, these artists uncover the new and mysterious using our own faculty for recognition as a co-conspirator. Counterfeits, trompe l’oeil, certified copies, prints and duplications all offer subtle pleasures as a result of their being removed slightly from the authentic original. Some precedents for facsimiles in contemporary art are Allan McCollum’s Surrogate paintings and Sherrie Levine’s appropriations of Walker Evans photos (re-photographing), and of course, Andy Warhol’s Brillo boxes.
Other works in Facsimile present blank screens or voids upon which we may project unlimited narratives and meanings. The whiteness and void spaces of empty billboards, blankets and bedspreads, window blinds and sheets of paper are all sensitive surfaces available to receive and reflect what we bring to them. Some works affect the whiteness with the faintest impressions or
actions, activating an uninflected “given” with a mild gesture or mark, such as Rodriguez-Casanova’s White Blinds and Peggy Preheim’s graphite drawing. Some inscriptions into that blankness are hidden, or barely visible, such as Ghada Amer’s figures stitched into canvas and T.R. Ericsson’s print made of cigarette smoke. Sometimes they act as placeholders, marking the pauses between speech or action. The legacy of minimalism interpreted here is not emptiness, but the potential for meaning. Tracings and erasures, knitting, crocheting and embroidery are systems of mark making, handmade technologies that take one step further from the immediacy of drawing.
Certified copies and the easy transferral of content in the digital age have become standard practice today. A photograph of a check snapped by a smartphone becomes instant currency in a bank account. Originals and facsimiles swap value in a more fluid way than ever before. The works in
Facsimile play in that gap between gold standard and legal tender. Peggy Preheim’s meticulous drawings rely on the vividness of an original vintage photograph source. Elaine Reichek’s multiple swatches are inextricably linked to the original works of art they reference.
Many of the works in Facsimile explore the fetish aspect of objects and our reliance on brands to feel like we belong. Seliger, Davis and Reichek touch on the power of icons and idolatry in their works. Decisions involving scale create surprising ironies, as in Rita McBride’s Parking Lot. Catalina Jaramillo’s Celestial Sleepover is an emotionally-charged artifact that vibrates with memory. These works challenge our intellect and stimulate our cognitive ability to recognize and sort layers of reality.