Postcards from America: X-rays from Hell, a 1989 text written by the American artist David Wojnarowicz, presents to its reader a sense that the words and stories being shared, those of the early days of HIV/AIDS in the New York queer community, carry with them a narrative of bravery and homage for those who laid everything bare in the face of adversity. In this exhibition, the works also bear witness to heinous, senseless acts of institutionalized violence and racism in a cross-toxic mess that as of yet, has no end in site. The messages shared in the works of Lee Lozano, Josh Reames, Nina Chanel Abney, Mathew Zefeldt, Dave Mckenzie and Sofi Brazzeal are more important now than ever in the face of rising fascist tendencies that have led America into a democratic and societal crisis.
Paintings, signs, drawings, the written word, they are all used for the same purpose: to depict an image of contemporary American life. Through language and semiotics, figurative repetition, and the use of modern day hieroglyphs, the message is one: a society bombarded by an overflow of information that shatters the oppressed at the expense of the powerful.
Lozano’s “word piece” generates a manifesto of personal politics that are inevitably shared with and absorbed by the viewer, the same way Mckenzie’s banner resembles a meme whose somber mantra shows a stark boundary between realities. Zefeldt’s multiplication of imagery supports this idea. Through a much more representational perspective of pop culture and video games, he creates marks that solidify into still-life arrangements, a mental funnel that simulates the digital era we inhabit. Nina Chanel Abney engages controversial issues using representation and abstraction with the immediacy of a refreshed website or Twitter feed. Josh Reames’ paintings are a superimposed dialogue of streams of information pertaining to our social everyday struggles. Sofi Brazzeal confronts the smugness and fetishism of oppression and cruelty and channels it back to paper, an alchemy of how patriarchal dominance is visualized as norm.
Through their individual language, – in unison – Postcards from America reveals the desire for social interconnectedness along with the somber truth that the fetishization of a Great America has seared itself into the fabric of the country.
Joseph Imhauser & Victor Celaya