Miami-based artist Manny Prieres is part anthropologist, part draftsman, part historical scavenger as he translates the dark beauty of marginalized literature and film into an expertly crafted aesthetic practice. His latest solo exhibition with Spinello Projects, LOCK THEM OUT AND BAR THE DOOR. LOCK THEM OUT FOREVERMORE. aims to present reinventions of banned or censored publications that have, for a contemporary audience, curious (and often ironic) new meanings.
In 1922, visionary Danish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen created a documentary/horror film depicting the potent superstitions and mythologies surrounding Satanism and the hysteria of the Medieval Christian clergy to purge themselves (and others) of its strange lures. Häxan (trans. ‘The Witches’) portrayed sacrilegious rituals and demonic possessions with suggestive imagery of self-flagellation, forbidden sexual gestures and Inquisition-sponsored torture. Reenacted in painstaking detail using drawings and descriptions from Malleus Maleficarum (a 15th century ‘how-to’ for clergymen to prosecute suspected witches or devil-worshippers), Christensen’s once widely banned creation has since become a critically relished, wildly popular cult classic. Its 1968 re-release featured a dramatic narration by William S. Burroughs, opening the film with the words LOCK THEM OUT AND BAR THE DOOR. LOCK THEM OUT FOREVERMORE.
Circulating within three distinct bodies of work, Prieres injects a passionate interest the methodologies of printmaking, publishing, graphic design, and classical drafting into silkscreen and tone on tone drawings. The works themselves: 30 black tone-on-tone drawings made identical in scale to 30 books which were (and some still are) banned or challenged by various organizations in the Western Hemisphere (including the United States), four individual silkscreen prints of four books whose entire textual content has been superimposed layer on top of consecutive layer, and ten additional tone-on-tone drawings intertwining subversive statements or propaganda atop innocent, decorative floral graphics. With mathematical precision, Prieres hypothesizes the effect of text on itself and his viewers; books and their content offer ideas that contrast, contradict and cancel themselves outright. Titles that held fearful, but dangerously exciting, implications half a century ago have now become mainstream. The effect of words on words becomes a dialectic blackout, as the visual result bears startling, uncanny resemblances to the personalities of the authors and their works. At its terminus, the exhibition challenges its viewers to consider how each book or film was, before they knew it, a target of elimination. Now, it is the stuff of cultural sublimation.
Manny Prieres was born in Madrid, Spain in 1972. His work has been featured in, group exhibitions at The Bass Museum of Art, the Miami Art Museum, and galleries in Auckland, Istanbul, Los Angeles, New York and Miami. Prieres was selected for an eighteen month-long residency in 2010 with LegalArt Miami and has been included in publications such as The Miami Herald, ArtNexus, Art Papers and Artnet Online. Prieres lives and works in Miami.