Odd Ghosts and Unlikely Dancers
WEEKEND is pleased to present Odd Ghosts and Unlikely Dancers, an exhibition of video and sculpture curated by Michelle Carla Handel and featuring the work of artists Phyllis Green and Bessie Kunath.
Phyllis Green's line of inquiry circles the traditions of ceramics, textiles and domestic objects within the context of the feminine. In her work, Odd Old Things, Green presents heavy, ancient, mysterious and malformed ballerinas - devoid of the qualities classical dancers generally possess. The figures are 'on stage' and dressed in delicate tutus, but they are plump, bulky, laden and awkward, covered with the patina of time. To add further contradiction, these dancers also function as candelabras who stand still to ensure their precariously placed flames stay illuminated. If their physicality is at odds with their purpose, or if in some way they are suited perfectly for it, the viewer cannot be sure.
Bessie Kunath's video, Head Spaces and Screen Tests, presents the viewer with a series of objects being 'screen-tested' for roles for which they may be ill-equipped. On display, ethereal and ghostly, Kunath's videoed objects move slightly in reaction to a mysterious wind as they rotate in space. Though there is an invitation to look and perhaps scrutinize, what characteristics are desirable for this undetermined purpose? Rough-hewn fabrication and imperfections would seem to make them qualified to be only bit players or character actors, but in this work they exist as unlikely protagonists.
In these bodies of work, Green and Kunath each set a stage featuring a cast of characters. There is nothing ideal about these entities; they are presented as complex, flawed, shoddy,or in varying states of resolve. Kunath's objects employ movement while Green's sculptures of dancers remain frustratingly motionless. The forms are somehow inappropriate to their performative settings or suggested purposes but there is a charm in the redefinition or falling short of certain expectations. Idiosyncratic and peculiar, both artists play out something simultaneously ordinary and abstruse with their respective dramas.
Phyllis Green was raised in Canada and received an MFA from UCLA in 1981. Green's work has been exhibited extensively in exhibitions nationally and internationally, including 'From Head to Toe: Concepts of the Body in 20th Century Art' , 'Made in California: Art, Image, and Identity' , both at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and 'Fiction@Love' at MOCA, Shanghai. A survey exhibition titled 'Splendid Entities: 25 Years of Objects by Phyllis Green' was presented at Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles in 2011.
Bessie Kunath recieved her MFA from UC Santa Barbara in 2012. Mostly sculptural and often video-based, Kunath's work invites us to interrogate our understanding of the physical objects and images we encounter in our daily lives. Recently she has exhibited in 'BOOM MFA Invitational' at Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles; 'Headgear for Tony: UCSB MFA Exhibition' at Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum; 'Courbet is Better Thank You' at Gallery 479; and 'Made in California' at City of Brea Art Gallery.