Lisa Cooley is thrilled to announce Josh Faught’s second solo show at the gallery, Longtime Companion. Faught employs marginalized materials and techniques, such as weaving and other traditional crafts, to explore marginalized feelings – the intersection of identity, desire, loss, ornamentation, sexual politics, and domesticity. Faught’s signature sculptural forms – loose, irregular hemp weaves, sagging, draped fabric, loofah-like burrows, pockets, frayed knots and webs – appear here in a new body of work that focuses on the interplay between order and disorder.
Faught transforms archival texts drawn from support networks, guidebooks, and other repositories of knowledge into woven textiles, which adorn the artworks in this exhibition. He re-weaves panels from the Aids Quilt onto stretcher bars, honoring both the Quilt, the single largest piece of community folk art in the world, as well as the process of healing after loss. A large garden trellis supports a woven PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) newsletter, while woven chapter titles from Dungeon Emergencies and Supplies inform the viewer about possible dangerous situations that may arise if they find themselves in an S&M dungeon. “Police at the Door” and “Hyperventilation” are just a few of scenarios to guard against, in dungeons as well as in life.
The suggestion of transitions – whether seasonal or psychological – runs throughout the exhibition.
Several of the works formally allude to calendars with colorfully woven horizontal or vertical bands to suggest the passing of time. These bands are woven using a technique called Summer and Winter, developed in Colonial America for coverlets on beds. The structure of the weave allowed complex designs to emerge in the cloth with the simplest of looms. Historically, these coverlets were reversible – color on one side and white on the other. In this way, the coverlets could provide warmth while remaining aesthetically and seasonally appropriate all year.
Two custom-designed, red cedar sculptures anchor the exhibition. Delicate replicas of PFLAG newsletters are set into the face of each unit while potpourri pies, wax cupcakes, and collections of books line the closets’ shelves. These sculptures mirror each other, while suggesting opposite polarities of support and menace. Summer (Dona Z. Meilach) includes a replica of a summer newsletter as well as a collection of books by Dona Z. Meilach – a precursor to Martha Stewart who created complete collections of “how-to” books on crafts. Winter (Ann Rule) features a winter newsletter and a collection of true crime books by Ann Rule. Rule came to prominence while researching a book on the Ted Bundy murders. Bundy was unidentified as the killer at the time and Rule had unknowingly befriended him as a fellow employee at a suicide hotline, living amongst a killer. These books revel in the suburban panic of domestic life while telling a cautionary tale of normal people gone awry.
Materials incorporated into many of the works oscillate between suggesting threats and protecting against malice. Several works feature disaster relief blankets, stretched like canvases and adorned with political buttons. Red cedar and lavender protect against infestation and ceramic cats theoretically protect against mice. Calendars order time, potpourri diffuses unwanted odors, and how-to books offer a cure to dissatisfaction. Cochineal, a natural red dye, suffuses the works in the exhibition, and extend its metaphors of infestation. To obtain the dyes, one must harvest cochineal insects from the cacti they live on, grind them up, then boil and strain the mixture.
The title of the exhibition, Longtime Companion, is taken from the expression the New York Times first used to delicately describe the surviving same-sex partner of someone who had died from AIDS. Faught’s tender appropriation of this term imbues the works with humanity, while simultaneously invoking the complex political issues surrounding intimacy, language and privacy.
Josh Faught lives and works in San Francisco, California. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the California College of Arts in Oakland and San Francisco and has exhibited widely in the United States. Recent exhibitions include Material Occupation at the Albany University Art Museum and Painting Expanded at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York. Faught won the prestigious Betty Bowen Award from the Seattle Art Museum in 2009, and subsequently had a solo exhibition there. His work is included in the permanent collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art and he is the recipient of a 2011 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant.