In the Studio with Ghada Amer
THE ARMITAGE GONE DANCE EXQUISITE CORPSE PROJECT
More than 180 internationally recognized visual artists, architects, designers and photographers participated in the Armitage Gone! Dance Exquisite Corpse Project, beginning in 2011. The artists created one hundred and thirty nine artworks to benefit Armitage Gone! Dance, an internationally acclaimed contemporary dance company under the direction of renowned choreographer Karole Armitage. Using the 1920's surrealist parlor game "cadavre exquise," a drawing that combines words and/or images by multiple artists on one sheet of paper, the project celebrates the theme of chance encounters, surprise and radical juxtaposition. Each artist adds to the composition, in sequence, without seeing the contribution of the previous person. The chance juxtaposition of images and styles results in a work that is both unexpected and amusing. Each drawing is a combination of the work of three or four artists.
The Exquisite Corpse project is a way for a wide range of artists to express their support for Armitage’s work and also a way for her to acknowledge artists who have played such a large role in her career. The project also highlights the “performative” aspect of art-making by demonstrating that drawing, performance art, and dance all have in common spontaneity and an unpredictable nature. The evanescent quality of dance is mirrored in the surprising juxtapositions of the Exquisite Corpse.
Using a refined painterly technique inspired by the Hudson River School and traditional figure painting, Will Cotton paints surrealistic foodscapes and demure female nudes wearing lollipop crowns, lounging in cotton candy, or adorned with cupcake foils. Cotton paints from life, constructing elaborate models using real baked goods and other confectionery, from which he derives the fantastical environments depicted in his large-scale canvases. Cotton’s work has been interpreted as a criticism of the greed and the overindulgence of American society, as well as a contemporary re-imagination of traditional genres such as landscape and portraiture. Cotton has also directed his creative energies toward the realm of popular culture, acting as art director for Katy Perry’s California Gurls (2010) music video and depicting the singer in a series of paintings.
American, b. 1965, Melrose, Massachusetts, based in New York, New York
Since his emergence in the 1990s (when he went by the moniker “Candy Ass”), Cary Leibowitz has styled himself as a self-loathing, reluctant artist. Through this cleverly crafted persona, he critiques the pretentiousness of the art world and the commodification of art. He also foregrounds his gay and Jewish identity, exploring how it places him outside of mainstream American society. His work—which encompasses prints, paintings, sculpture, and installation—is full of humor and pathos. He often incorporates such everyday items as mugs and knitted caps into his pieces, altering them with pointed text and arranging them into unlikely forms. In Stop Copying Me (2001), for example, he presented a row of identical paintings, each one reading, “Stop copying me,” except for the two in the middle, which interrupted with, “Do these pants make me look Jewish?”
American, b. 1963, based in New York, New York
Ghada Amer has received widespread attention for her thickly embroidered canvases that feature fragmented erotic imagery sourced from pornographic magazines. Originally produced to inspire lust, in Amer’s hands the pornographic images are transformed into meditations on the private nature of ecstasy. "I liked the idea of representing women through the medium of thread because it is so identified with femininity," she once said. "I wanted to 'paint' a woman with embroidery, too." Otherwise known as a painter and sculptor, Amer has dedicated her career to a highly personal exploration of femininity in various contexts. Her 2008 mid-career survey at the Brooklyn Museum included paintings, sculpture, illustration, performances, and installation pieces that explored the mysteries of love, war, and violence.
Egyptian, b. 1963, Cairo, Egypt, based in New York, New York