Queen's Nails is pleased to present The Modern Monster, featuring Bay Area artists Michelle Blade, Anthony Discenza, and George Pfau, and New York artists Valerie Hegarty and Jillian McDonald. The Modern Monster includes works in a range of media that express the same sense of foreboding and uneasiness that fuels horror films. The artists either project back filmic monsters through a critical lens, or they explore the mysterious suggestion of an internal aggressor. Reflecting the connection between the recent embrace of the horror genre in popular culture and the current feeling of impending doom in capitalist society, the works in the exhibition are paradoxically ominous and humorous.
The title of the exhibition derives from Lars Bang Larsen's 2011 essay "
Zombies of Immaterial Labor: The Modern Monster and the Death of Death
," an examination of zombies from a Marxist perspective. The author suggests that zombies express a unique sense of alienation in late capitalism: zombies do not enter into our society from outside, but rather, they lie latent within our own bodies. The works in The Modern Monster manifests this sense of an internal force, both within ourselves and within society.
Michelle Blade debuts two new sculptures for the exhibition: Black Hole Funeral Wreath, 2013, a murky abstract take on the decorations commonly found in funeral parlors around the Mission, and Untitled (Urn for ashes of paintings), 2013, a handmade vessel containing the charred remains of her past paintings. Anthony Discenza's video The Things, 2006, is an amalgam of two different versions of the horror film The Thing, from 1951 and 1982, and his yellowed teaser pages hint at unsettling narratives. Valerie Hegarty's George Washington Melted 4, 2011, resembles a nineteenth century painting that is self-destructing, suggesting the disintegration of American identity. Premiering at Queen's Nails, Jillian McDonald's Valley of the Deer , 2012, is a 48-minute video shot on location in rural Scotland, influenced both by local mythology and horror and science fiction films. By focusing on expansive views of landscapes in zombie films in his new paintings and then magnifying small areas of these vistas in corresponding photographs, George Pfau engages in a visual conversation on the human body in an in-between state, as represented by the zombie. On the façade of the gallery, Pfau has also painted a diagram representing the tension between the individual and the collective in zombie narratives.