The Paula Cooper Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition with works by Jonathan Borofsky, Sam Durant, Charles Gaines, Wayne Gonzales, Liz Glynn, Hans Haacke, Walid Raad, and Andres Serrano. The works will be on view at 197 Tenth Avenue.
Jonathan Borofsky’s I dreamed I had to smuggle out some secret documents…2,206,918 is part of a series begun in the mid-1970s in which the artist compulsively recorded his dreams. Alluding to socio-political or personal events, the dreams are visualized in a playful, casual hand. The serial nature and numbered signature align the works with Borofksy's multi-decade project in which he attempted to count to infinity, methodically writing numbers for hours every day.
In Dream More Work Less / In A Society (grey/orange) (2013), Sam Durant extends his interest in political language, weaving relationships between defining moments in contemporary society. Hand silvered glass is layered with text in sprayed enamel, referencing the exact lettering from the text’s original source. The anonymous slogans are taken from found images of graffiti in urban areas, near sites of the ongoing Occupy movement.
Charles Gaines' Notes on Social Justice: Dey's All Put on De Blue (1880) (2013) is comprised of large-scale drawings of sheet music from a Civil War era song. The seemingly mechanical rendering is meticulously produced by hand in ink. The original lyrics are replaced with words from various political and aesthetic manifestos, including Karl Marx’s On the Possibility of a Non-Violent Revolution (1872) and Lucio Fontana’s White Manifesto (1946).
Liz Glynn's works conjure epic historical narratives and civilizations, often through imperfect replicas of contested objects. Tunnel (Gaza/Giza) (2012) evokes the underground network used for smuggling goods across the Egypt–Palestine border, drawing parallels between trade routes of colonial-era Egypt and contemporary conduits for trafficking objects. Based on journalistic accounts, the project is an amalgamation of fact and intricate storytelling.
Wayne Gonzales creates paintings based on photographs often appropriated from the Internet. The painting on view is a pointillist enlargement of a photograph depicting flag-draped coffins in a cargo plane, the first of its kind to be released to the public since 1991. During the Gulf War the government banned media coverage of such depictions of war victims, a policy the Obama administration overturned in 2009. The painting oscillates between representation and abstraction, creating a graphic yet painterly surface altering the reception of this highly charged image.
Replicating a monumental flip-top box of cigarettes, Hans Haacke's Helmsboro Country (1990) reveals the underside of a seemingly benign set of relations. The work undertakes a controversy that took place in the 1990s over federal financing of artworks in the US and a suspect conflict of interest in electoral funding for then Senator Jesse Helms. Each cigarette is ringed with the words ''Philip Morris Funds Jesse Helms'' and has affixed to it a copy of the Bill of Rights, a reference to Philip Morris’ reactionary advertising campaign.
The Atlas Group is a research collective and archive project established by Walid Raad to examine the recent history of Lebanon. Calling into question the reliability of narrative, memory, and iconography, the image on view belongs to a series titled I Might Die Before I Get A Rifle. The work consists of a photographic index of explosives, which Raad attributes to a fictional character, Hannah Mrad, a member of the Lebanese Army explosives division who stated:
Months into my new assignment, I found myself unable to remember the names of the thousands of explosive devices I was meant to master. I began to photograph them, hoping that the photographs would aid my memory. They didn't and I was let go. I still blame my photographs for my release.
Andres Serrano’s work deals with longstanding societal taboos, often juxtaposing the sacred and profane. Klansman (Great Titan of the Invisible Empire) depicts an anonymous member of the Ku Klux Klan in profile, wearing a stark white hood, against a black background. The theatricality of the image’s lighting and color emphasize the figure’s iconography.