Jennifer Sullivan: WJEN Radio Station Live! From Los Angeles, CA
(Starring Jennifer Sullivan as herself)
(With Special Guests)
My first solo exhibition continues the saga of WJEN Radio Station,
a burgeoning “freeform inspirational” station currently based in
Brooklyn, NY. Extending the narrative of the ongoing “self-portrait as
radio” persona that I have been exploring over the past two years, the
show will take the form of a culturally and emotionally site-specific
installation and live performance, and will be the most fully realized
embodiment of the WJEN project to date.
Drawing upon both the clichéd connotations of Los Angeles/Hollywood as dream factory to the world and show biz epicenter, as well as the personal sense of hopefulness and aspiration that accompanies the realization of my first solo show, the plot line of WJEN Radio Station Live! From Los Angeles, CA imagines the WJEN persona having been invited to Los Angeles to tape pilot episodes of It’s a Process, a TV talk and variety show version of the WJEN Radio franchise.
Initially inspired as a cross-between NPR’s Studio 360 and Godard’s Sympathy for the Devil, It’s a Process is the only program broadcast on the WJEN Radio, in addition to its base format of talk radio soliloquy, MIDI-aoke remixes/medleys and absurdist commercials. More recently however, It’s a Process has expanded its format to include interviews and incorporate the idea of dialogue with other artists and creative people. The name It’s a Process is also an allusion to psychotherapy and relates my desire to draw a connection between talk radio, “talking therapy,” and the therapeutic potential of connecting to others.
The interview format of It’s a Process implements a humanistic model inspired by Studs Terkels’Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (the musical version of which I performed as a child at acting camp in 1989), and is in part a response to and disruption of the confrontational power dynamics implied in the job interview scenarios of Martin Kippenberger’s The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s Amerika. The interviews I create are based upon an idea of equanimity between host, guest and audience and guided by the principle that everyone has a story to tell.
It’s a Process will take place in an ad hoc living room sound stage, a fantasy version of my own home created on site in the gallery space. The set will be created predominantly through cast off house wares acquired through the free section of Craigslist LA or scavenged elsewhere in the city. In this way, the project will further blur the boundaries between art and life by incorporating a connection to the real geography of Los Angeles, as well as underlining the core concept of improvisation that I employ in my live interactive radio performances.
In addition to interviews, the show will include “cathartic karaoke” musical performances in which I act the part of makeshift cabaret chanteuse. Furthermore, the self-performing sensibility of the program will highlight my influence from pop cultural precedents such as The Dean Martin Show and Hugh Hefner’s Playboy After Dark whose hosts strike a middle ground between self and persona, intimacy and stylization. In contrast to the predominantly male hosts of 60s/70s TV variety shows and the “One Man Show” Vegas style cabaret genre, my WJEN character collapses the personality of the host and the seductiveness of the showgirl into one individual, encompassing a yin yang of Id and Ego or IQ plus T & A.
conjunction with the performances and installation, the exhibition will
include recent large scale paintings on paper that further expand upon
many of the ideas inherent in the WJEN project. In my paintings, as in
my karaoke performances, I create “cover versions” of my source
material, in this case covers of covers, such as the book cover of Nick
Tosches’ Country: The Twisted Roots of Rock and Roll, the DVD cover art
of Fassbinder’s Lola and a headshot of a Dean Martin tribute artist I
found on the Internet, (a tribute artist being a personification of the
idea of the cover). These paintings explore the idea of the cover or
the imperfect copy as a metaphor for transformation, the way in which
one is changed by the things that they love and the subjectivity of
experience. In copying objects, I wish to express my view of
originality as a unique point of view forged by the interdependent
relationship one has to the world around them.
Born in Albany, NY in 1978, Jennifer Sullivan moved to Brooklyn, NY in 1995 to study at Pratt Institute where she earned her BFA in Sculpture. After a brief adventure of moving to New Mexico and Maine, she returned to Brooklyn to attend Parsons School of Design and received her MFAinFine Arts in 2005. Ms. Sullivan has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally,mostrecently at the Cirrus Gallery and Telic Arts Exchange in Los Angeles. Herwork has also shownat the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, the ElizabethFoundation Gallery, SixtysevenGallery, Foxy Production, Planaria Gallery, DanielSilverstein Gallery, Yuerba Buena Center forthe Arts, Museo Tamayo ArteContemporaneo, in Mexico City, Mexico and HaNNa Gallery inTokyo, Japan. Her videoswere recently acquired by the University of California in San Diego forinclusion in theGeisel Film and Video Library collection. In addition to her solo projects, Ms.Sullivan workedcollaboratively with artist Erica Magrey from 2003 – 2005 under the monikerGenerica /Everything is Totally Possible Corporation.