Post / Relationship / X
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is very pleased to present ZACKARY DRUCKER & RHYS ERNST:POST / RELATIONSHIP / X, on view in Gallery 1 and Gallery 2, from September 13 through November 1, 2014. An artists' reception will be held on Saturday, September 13th, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Relationship, an extensive photographic project created by Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst that documents their life together from 2008 through 2013, debuted at the 2014 Whitney Biennial, New York, and comes to Los Angeles via the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, where it is currently being presented as part of Fan the Flames: Queer Positions in Photography through September 7th. The artists will also present a new video created specifically for this LA exhibition.
Relationship chronicles Drucker and Ernst's private moments as an opposite-oriented transgender couple, during which time Ernst transitioned from female to male and Drucker transitioned from male to female. Described by Drucker as "pure diary", Relationship positions the document as a malleable tool for producing narrative and counternarrative form, through snapshots that depict the artists in various states of attachment and moments of solitude. "My life with Rhys was perplexing and captivating, and I wanted to remember it," she says.
This exhibition includes images presented at the Whitney and the AGO along with many others that are part of the original series but have not yet been shown.1 Perhaps the complexity of this iteration lies in how stages of detachment and intimacy are signified through differences of mood and tone as opposed to chronology; whereas Relationship's previous presentations cultivated a more celebratory and sentimental portal into the artists' life together, this broader range of material speaks to Drucker and Ernst's more recent stage of individuation as they initiate a separation of their romantic partnership while continuing their creative collaboration.
Throughout the series, Drucker and Ernst portray each other and themselves as both whole and fragmented subjects--figures and bodies obscured by objects or reflected in mirrors, and situated within environments ranging from domestic interiors to lush, outdoor settings. The processes of performing and documenting, which are more in the service of "making worlds" than evidence-gathering, suggest a dysfunctionality to these documents which fail a clinical expectation.
While some of the images have already acquired a level of fictionalization and idealization in the public sphere--and the artists' self-selection seems to almost mythologize two bodies within specific times and places--the photographs' emergence was considerably more spontaneous. In Drucker's words, this practice is "a life collaboration" in which their rituals and routines overlapped existence, "weaving in and out of a creative space, a personal space, and all the lines converge with us." Rather than staging the desired effect, the performative has become slowly embedded within the documentation process through an awareness of and familiarity with the camera, allowing for the mundane to be congealed by the medium.
Included in this exhibition will be Drucker and Ernst's newest video collaboration, titled X, a montage of footage taken from the same time period as Relationship that references the intersection of their creative and romantic collaboration as they move in mirror-opposite directions.Overlaid with a voiceover track developed from the artists' personal writings, X functions as a parallel to the images' content and mode of accumulation--a compendium of fragmentation that dips in and out of abstraction and adds a textured, layered dimension to the stills.
The artists speak of this new work, which contains footage from the earlier period of their relationship, as "bringing to life" the photographs in ways that are more atmospheric than narrative, and exploring Ernst's interest "in the space between film and photography, where the movement between frames breaks down and films become images (and vice versa)."
Relationship comes to fruition at a moment when newly produced queer and transgender representations are appearing alongside those that have been cultivated, recalled and summoned from the past though networked digitization. A widespread convergence of the personal with the historical occurs as the world of images at large takes on an emergent quality. Through this crossing of past with present--of repressed and erased histories with the most recent forms of self-actualization--affinities and lineages begin to take form.
Drucker and Ernst, who come from experimental film and photography backgrounds, collate their sensibilities through a selection of their own still and moving images that both deflect and navigate the greater world of dominant and recessive representation. Within the work's politic is the insistence that while performative yet private moments of being may become publicly 'found' at the point of reception, the work must maintain a kind of interiority, a protective sovereignty that disallows being defined by the outside world.
Relationship is an ongoing series. The Whitney originally intended to present 100 photographs from this series in the Biennial; due to space restrictions it was edited down to 46.
[NOTE: Relationship and She Gone Rogue will be presented concurrently at the Flaten Art Museum, St. Olaf College, Minnesota, from September 12 through November 2, 2014.]
Zackary Drucker is a photographer, filmmaker and performance artist who uses a range of creative devices that all strive towards the portrayal of bodily identity, her own and that of others, obsessively infusing visual media--photographs, videos and performance art--with acute, masochistic emotional compulsions. Conceiving, discovering, and manifesting herself as "a woman in the wrong world", her work is rooted in cultivating and investigating under-recognized aspects of transgender history, locating herself in that history, and communicating her contemporary experience of gender and sexuality. Drucker earned an MFA from CalArts in 2007 and a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2005. Her recent films include SHE GONE ROGUE (created in collaboration with Rhys Ernst), presented in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, New York; "Fan the Flames: Queer Positions in Photography" at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; "Feminine/Masculine" at ICA London; "Made in L.A. 2012", the inaugural Los Angeles Biennial at the Hammer Museum; and, At least you know you exist, presented at MoMA PS1 and the 3rd Moscow Biennial of Young Art, among other notable venues. Her videos include One Fist; The Inability to Be Looked At and The Horror of Nothing to See; Lost Lake; FISH: A Matrilineage of Cunty White-Woman Realness; and, You will never be a woman. You must live the rest of your days entirely as a man and will only grow more masculine with every passing year. There is no way out.
Drucker has also performed and exhibited her work internationally in numerous museums, galleries, and film festivals including the 54th Venice Biennale (Swiss Off-Site Pavilion); Curtat Tunnel, Lausanne, Switzerland; L.U.C.C.A. Museum of Contemporary Art, Lucca, IT; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tromso Kunstaforening, Tromso, Norway; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; Hammer Museum, REDCAT and LACE, all in Los Angeles. She lives in Los Angeles and is represented by Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.
Rhys Ernst is a filmmaker and artist who works across narrative and experimental film, photography, animation, and mixed-media, utilizing various forms and modalities to investigate masculinity, transgender identity and the intersection of gender and narrative construction. Ernst received his MFA in Film/ Video at CalArts in 2011 and a BA from Hampshire College in 2004. His MFA thesis film THE THING premiered at Sundance 2012 and his collaborative film with Zackary Drucker, SHE GONE ROGUE, premiered at the 2012 "Made in LA" Los Angeles Biennial at the Hammer Museum. Past exhibitions and screenings include the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Oberhausen, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and in Los Angeles at UCLA Hammer Museum, REDCAT, and LACE. He lives in Los Angeles.