Rome, The American Academy in Rome, Via Angelo Masina 5Map
A precocious former member of The Still House Group, New York-based American artist and photographer Grear Patterson distills language and its visual shorthand – a nowadays dictionary of winking and frowning emoticons – and reshuffles them into ambiguous ciphers. In so doing, he pinpoints a fundamental paradox in contemporary media culture: Even as communication networks have multiplied, modes of digital expression have boiled the vernacular down to a limited repertory of staccato signs. As if to underscore this chasm, his hieroglyphs are countered by images and videos almost overflowing with nostalgia for lost innocence and childhood rituals.
In a show named for the site of many of his most significant formative experiences, he plumbs the pleasures and anxieties of adolescence. Photographs, videos, paintings, and installations evoke both personal and collective rites of passage comprising a distinctly American experience embodied by, among other things, baseball cards, treehouses and summer camp. Evoking playgrounds and pranks, his work, alternating between disclosure and reticence, explores not only the immediacy of reckless experience, violent impulses and erotic yearning, but the halting emotional lexicon insufficient to express those furtive memories and desires.
A catalogue published by NERO will accompany the exhibition.