At Magenta Plains in NYC, Drawings and Altered Photographs (But No Dogs) from William Wegman
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.
Though originally trained in painting, William Wegman is known for his photographic images featuring dogs—primarily his own Weimaraners—in various costumes and poses, and with an array of props. Wegman embarked on a 12-year collaboration with his first dog, Man Ray, who appeared in numerous photographs and videos. In 1986 Wegman acquired a new dog, Fay Ray, beginning a second collaboration in which the artist began using a 20-by-24-inch Polaroid; Wegman’s cast would grow after Fay Ray gave birth to a litter. In Entabled (1988), a Weimaraner is depicted perched demurely on its back atop an antique wooden table, while in Evergreen (2003), Wegman captures his dog’s profile against a stark black background and with a sprig of upside-down foliage balanced on its head. He has also produced artist books in which his dogs feature as the lead characters, as in his much-loved dog version of Cinderella.
American, b. 1943, Holyoke, Massachusetts
Known for his zany performances, William Earl Kofmehl III draws from his wide-ranging fascinations and his experimental approach to life to produce scenarios at once enigmatic and inviting. In 2002, he (literally) launched his career; donning a lobster suit, he took a vow of silence and moved into a wooden shelter, eventually emerging and traveling to worldwide tourist attractions, where he would launch himself off of a wooden platform and land—splat—on the ground. This piece earned him the moniker, “Lobster Boy,” and marked the beginning of his progressively more elaborate performances. In all of his work, Kofmehl aims to encourage viewers to see the world differently, stating: “One of my approaches toward performance is self-deprecation, allowing the viewer to feel empowered and invited into the work. This empowerment enables the viewer to transition from voyeur to participant.”
American, b. 1980, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and San Luis, Costa Rica