The 2017 Whitney Biennial Is a Pitch-Perfect Survey of Art Today
In Kaari Upson’s most recent project, she scours the streets of L.A. for discarded mattresses and cushions, which she casts silicone versions of and then paints in lustrous pigments. The works offer a glimpse into the artist’s interior world, touching on themes of absence, loss, separation, and decay.
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The majority of Kaari Upson’s career has been devoted to a single, multifarious series titled “The Larry Project” (2007–). “Larry” is the fictitious name Upson assigned to her parents’ neighbor, whose possessions she salvaged when his house burned down. Larry’s large trove of personal mementos—which included photographs, journals, and pornography—became the raw material or reference for Upson’s paintings, installations, performances, and films. She originally hoped to explore his psychological state of mind, but quickly realized, “I was using him as a mirror back on myself.” Though she hasn’t figured out “an exit strategy” for the project, Upson recently began a new monumental series: “Sleep with the Key” (2013) is comprised of silicon replicas of discarded mattresses Upson finds in L.A.—a reference the artist’s recent experience being bedridden with illness.
American, b. 1972, San Bernadino, California, based in New York & Los Angeles