Regime of Images
Durden and Ray presents Regime of Images, an interdisciplinary exhibition featuring 12 contemporary artists from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Southwest; their work will link historically to the past via video excerpts of Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, Bruce Conner’s montage films from the ’60s and ’70s, and Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi.
The phrase Regime of Images describes a condition imposed by the post-colonial hierarchy of Thailand to cope with the modern world after Siam. The lived reality of inequitable social conditions was masked by a constructed veil of projections in media and society — a “regime of images.” Artists in Regime critically engage with these types of regimes, which are strata of visual rhetoric generated by an authoritarian, late capitalist, and consumerist state.
Many of the artists in Regime take political themes head-on, like Laura Tanner Graham’s mixed media works, which act as a visual archive of research that examines the consequences of American colonialism. Her piece Decorative Borders (2018) uses the design strategies of American decorative arts to construct layers of rules and hierarchies that are stitched into dominant white American myths. Cara E. Levine’s This is Not A Gun (2018), is inspired by a list published in a 2016 Harper’s Magazine of objects which had been mistaken as guns by police officers in civilian shootings since 2001. For Levine, the carving of the objects from the list is an act of prayer, respect and remembrance. Although each object can be exhibited as an isolated piece, the work accrues more poignancy and power proportional to the density and amount of carvings. Alex Turner’s evocative photographs are produced by motion-sensitive cameras strategically sited at open border crossings between Arizona and Mexico. His objective lens captures multiple entities, both benign (animals) and malignant (drug smugglers), piling scores of transparent auras into one ghostly image.
Constance Mallinson presents collected images of another variety; in her paintings she laboriously renders garbage amassed from neighborhood walks into compositions that shifts the venerable “still-life” genre into the present. Like Mallinson, Michal Wisniowski also gleans his work from street walks, creating small installations out of carefully selected pieces of urban detritus like documents and notes, resulting in a loosely connected narrative of unknown lives. In his pre-internet drawing Untitled (60 Titles) (1989), Nick Taggart gathered sources the old fashioned way, scanning books and magazines; conversely, the paintings of Robert Heckes involve an archival regimen that swerves between outsourcing and images stored in a Home Depot bucket.
Contributions by members of the Durden and Ray include Sean Noyce's Soothsayer (2018) a mixed media painting that forges a relationship between artifacts and conventions common to the ancient world (like the bust, altar, and still life), symbolic and magical signs, and the coding language used to write apps and web technology. Jennifer Celio’s NIMBY series explores a more prosaic reality in a series of drawings that present a dystopic imagining of the collisions between humans and the natural world. Rather than presenting nature under siege, these obsessively detailed works depict scenarios where flora and fauna adapt to humanity’s intrusion by negotiating ways to survive.
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