Tanya Leighton is pleased to announce Endless Love, the first solo exhibition at the gallery by American artist Sam Anderson.
Anderson’s multidisciplinary practice focuses on the peripheral, the bit-part actors of life that arrive to bring about plot development and then slink off to the fringe. These figures are studied and organized, but never defined by Anderson, who asks her viewers to regard their personalities as carefully as they would themselves. Arranged into grid-like patterns that call to mind urban planning, public smoking areas, playgrounds, and other spaces that have been imagined and built for human interaction, Anderson’s sculptures are subject to the impulse of an architect they have never met.
Though the filmic is an underlying theme in much of Anderson’s sculptural work, the artist has not, until now, exhibited her videos in three years. Endless Love includes a looping excerpt of a new video of the same title, which follows the artist’s mother to New Zealand, where she was filming a horror movie, and West Virginia, where she had a log cabin built on land inherited from her mother and father. These scenes of ostensible documentary are interrupted by clips from a 1979 Western that Anderson’s mother starred in, as well as stock footage. Throughout the video, Anderson’s mother reads a monologue of musings compiled by the artist, which include conversations with taxi drivers, as well as fragments from the play A Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill – chosen almost at random as an example of 20th century writing that confuses familiar emotional colloquialisms with deep meaning. Our over-exposure to canned language, like the dialogue taken from O’Neill’s play, colours the way we are able to synthesize and vocalize emotion, making it increasingly easy to act out pat, scripted replies in moments of pain or existential suffering.
The artist’s mother also appears in the form of a clay sculpture holding a gong, modelled after a portrait drawn when she was in her early thirties. She is joined by taxis, tractors, and the ancillary actors who contextualize her: a farmer, an actress, a musician, a pregnant kiwi bird, a taxi driver, and a stalker.
Much of Endless Love seems to question the idea of objects holding transcendent power. Swept up bits of broken glass, orange peels, paper, and wood lie in the center of roughly cut pieces of sheepskin and leather. They could be unwrapped gifts still sitting in their wrapping or opened greeting cards with a dirty dollar bill inside. Presents as emblems of love or emotionality come under scrutiny - Anderson interrupts the video Endless Love with a short clip made by her partner, who gave it to her as a gift in 2013. Her own gift is also on view: a pair of moulded in-ear monitors, fit specifically to her partner’s ear canals, which are printed with nubile bathing beauties. They play their own insular soundtrack.
Anderson’s interests and themes are as far reaching as they are intimate. Her artworks engage through their familiarity, but reveal far more when they ask us to think how they came to be familiar. Where narratives break and slip, there is space for self-questioning, reformatting viewpoints of desire, role-playing, and examination of the material world both man-made and organic. Anderson’s work cultivates a cinematic positioning of the mind that switches in and out of multiple genres of comprehension.
Sam Anderson was born in Los Angeles, and lives and works in New York. She is a graduate of Yale University (MFA). Her work has been shown in numerous group and solo exhibitions in the United States and Europe, including Overduin & Co, Los Angeles; Maccarone, New York; Anthology Film Archives, New York; and White Columns, New York. She has had recent solo exhibitions at SculptureCenter, New York; Mother’s Tankstation, Dublin; Chapter, New York; and has a forthcoming solo show at Rowhouse Project, Baltimore. Her work is currently featured in Greater New York at MoMA PS1, New York.