Unwinding Unboxing, Unbending Uncocking

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Prahaar, 2014 © Courtesy of the Artist and Night Gallery
Unwinding Unboxing, Unbending Uncocking

2276 East 16th Street
90021 Los Angeles
February 28th, 2015 - April 4th, 2015
Opening: February 28th, 2015 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM

santa monica/venice
Tue-Sat 12-7


A man swallows his father’s glass eye. He fails to tell his doctor this when he goes into his office to have it removed. As the doctor approaches the man’s behind with a proctoscope, he is taken aback with what he sees: an eyeball staring back at him from inside the man’s clenched rectum. For a second the disoriented doctor feels as though he is inside the anus looking out at a man staring back at him. Once the doctor regains his composure, he expertly removes the glass eye, unblocking a stream of shit that flows as smooth as poetry*.

Here we enter Unwinding Unboxing, Unbending Uncocking, a solo exhibition at Night Gallery by Los Angeles artist Karl Haendel. “Un” is the common thread, connecting the boxes, the bends, the cocks and the wind. These two letters, which are the same shape bent in opposite directions, form the beating heart of the exhibition where contradictory ideas pulse simultaneously. The work is built upon fundamental questions surrounding the human body and the development of our identities; is nature tempered by nurture or vice versa? Does free will play any role at all in the filter between an interior sense of self and exterior consumption? Do cultural, commercial and social constructs close down on us or do we nestle comfortably into them? The notion of a mind-body-soul connection takes on a new meaning: is the yoga ideology, with its specific poses and assertion of a select lifestyle, rigid or malleable? Does it adapt to us or do we adapt to it? Is the frame coming down around us or are we pushing back out on it? Which side of the asshole are we on?

What better illustration of the arbitrariness of personal identity (with a whole industry ready to exploit it) than astrology? We are fire, water, air, or earth depending on the random time of year that our parents decided to consummate (or be surgically fertilized). Yet, perhaps there is merit for when our charts tell us that we will find love or travel, we can become more open to dating or taking time off work. When we look in the mirror and force a smile, facial feedback theory tells us that we become happier, so what’s the problem? After all, we are what we eat, what we do, and whatever objects or ideas we ingest.

* Story based on Robert Antoni’s Divina Trace (1991), Overlook Press, NY. p 284-287 

In conjunction with the exhibition, Haendel will be curating an Unboxing Film Festival at the gallery on the evening ofMarch 26th.

KARL HAENDEL (b. New York, NY 1976) received his MFA from UCLA in 2003, and his BA from Brown University in 1998. His work has recently been included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2014); and the 12th Biennale de Lyon, Lyon, France (2013); and Prospect II, New Orleans (2011).  Recent solo exhibitions include People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead at Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel (2014); The Competition Myth, Yvon Lambert, Paris, France (2013), and High Performance Stiffened Structures, Museo de Arte de El Salvador (2013), and his work is currently featured in Manifest Intention. Drawing in All Its Forms at the the Castello di Rivoli, Turin.  His works are in the public collections of the Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo, Norway; Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; LACMA, Los Angeles; CA; MOCA, Los Angeles, CA; La Colección Jumex, Mexico City, MX; MOMA, New York, NY; Fogg Art Museum; Boston, MA; OCMA, Newport Beach, CA; Whitney Museum, New York, NY.  Karl Haendel is represented by Susanne Vielmetter in Los Angeles and Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York. 

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