Mathis Altmann
Ebecho Muslimova
Eli Ping
Sam Pulitzer
Diamond Antoinette Stingily

with a live performance by Ben Morgan-Cleveland of Object #5
opening Sunday, November 22, 20157-9 pm

4334 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90029

This exhibition is a body mood, and this press release is an attempt to diagnose it. Imagine a medieval doctor, toting around a leather bag full of leeches.

Nude is a color, close to tan, sometimes slightly pink, sometimes more brown. It refers to the color of bare, light colored skin. Nude is a fashionable color right now, a complicated hue that disappears, mimes, and when worn, creates beautiful contrast with natural skin tones. Kanye West's recent collection, Yeezy 2, was limited almost exclusively to the nude range. The collection, produced by a black performance artist performing the role of designer and displayed on the bodies of models whose skin colors progressed linearly through the show from lightest to darkest, produced an ombre effect that brilliantly played upon the color of a nude body. Said West, “I want it to become more of a moving painting than a political statement or a fashion statement. It’s just a painting, just using clothing as a canvas of proportion and color.”

Diamond Antoinette Stingily's piece, titled Kaa, is a handmade braid, one hundred and eight feet in length. The braid is made of kanekalon hair, a synthetic fiber blend of acrylonitrile and vinyl chloride. Introduced in the 1980s as fiber for artificial hair, kanekalon hair closely resembles human hair and is flame retardant, making it ideal for hair extensions and hair weaves. Kaa is the name of the boa constrictor in The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling. Stingily is afraid of snakes. When Stingily was in grade school, a white girl used to frequently touch her hair and quickly pull her hand back, like she was being pricked by Stingily’s hair, as if Stingily's hair was hard and sharp. Thus Stingily's body was treated like a public object. In Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates considers what it is like to inhabit a black body, one that is constantly under the threat of outside control. In this way, the black body becomes an object, and Coates’ book is an extended meditation on what it means to be treated by society, by the police, and by the law as an object. Diamond Stingily's sculpture objectifies the hair of black women. The increased scale of the braid suggests an absurdly giant head, or no head at all, since the braid is now an object, and not attached directly to a human being. Stingily's process of creating this meaning is the same process by which black bodies are oppressed. Stingily's Kaa radically alters the space around it, snaking through the exhibition space, undermining the distance between the work and bodies of the audience. Harald Szeemann's timeless exhibition title, When Attitudes Become Form, is an appropriate description.

Give Me Some Energy To Fight Off My Demons, by Mathis Altmann, is, like Stingily's braid, a scaled up realist sculpture, but is related indirectly to the human body. Consisting of dozens of cartoonish, larger-than-life boxes for over-the-counter medications, the work is a hilarious parody of health, and a perverse mental exercise that engages the audience in a scaled version of the drugs inside the boxes. Imagine inserting an oversized suppository, or swallowing a giant pill, or both, one after the other, in infinite combinations. All the boxes are for drugs that require the choice and faith of the consumer, as none of the drugs are strong enough to need a prescription. There are many classic European drugs, all remedies against minor complaints, ranging from headaches, stomach aches, heartburn, and diarrhea to simple vitamin supplements. None are cures or require much discipline to administer. The drugs are light on the body, designed for non-professional consumption by an infantilized consumer, which mirrors the infantilization effect experience by the audience in the presence of Altman’s piece. The oversized boxes make the audience feel physically smaller, like children.

Fatebe Bubble, an ink on paper drawing by Ebecho Muslimova, is an explicit cartoon. The drawing depicts the naked, joyfully obese Fatebe (the alter ego of Ebecho) blowing a bubble out of her vagina, which extends into a glorious, atmospheric slime balloon before finally enveloping Fatebe's head, thus creating a kind of hilarious airlock, suggesting a kind of insane auto-asphyxiation. Fateebe is smiling, eyes wide, legs pulled back towards her head. Muslimova's drawings of Fatebe suggest a woman unashamed of her body, able to face all manner of dire physical injury and happier for it, in a form of feminist carpe diem that violates every taboo. Fatebe forms the bubble with a NuvaRing, a type of birth control worn inside the body. The NuvaRing, coated with smegma like a homemade bubble tool at an elementary school field day, is wielded by this grown up dirty little kid like an artist, nude and shining with awe and wonder at her body, experimenting with the physical properties of her vagina like a gasket on an engine.

Eli Ping's bronze cast is from a series of unique works all titled Aphakic, which refers to a punctured eye. This injury is either congenital or the result of trauma, and allows an unfiltered spectrum of light to enter the eye of the suffering party. Ultraviolet light becomes visible. In Ping’s work, two sutured, puckered seams sit opposite another, embedded in the surface of a small bronze cast attached flush to the wall. The surface formations suggest a tight membrane with an unhealed wound. Ping's bronze cast is absolutely literal, but also inescapably human. Bronze becomes a skin tone. These plaques could be trophies of mutiliation, or case studies in abstract plastic surgery. Through this tenuous, omphalic moment, Ping’s work becomes a punctured lens, a distortion of the traditional plane of painting that is so often used as a blank stage for the mind. However, the work remains a solid metal cast of the picture plane, and thus must be considered as sculpture, as a solid bronze plaque affixed to a building, as an intervention that anthropomorphizes the architecture. Like Lucio Fontana, Eli Ping has made a seemingly obvious move with utterly topical material consequences. But it is precisely this possibility of unimportance that makes Ping's new work fascinating.

Sam Pulitzer's work is difficult to describe in any way other than a literal description of the objects. This constitutes the first level of appreciation demanded by Pulitzer's work; this triumph of utter inscrutability is a hard won quality in an increasingly professionalized economy which demands explanations and references for any position. In his lecture series "Pictures of Nothing," Kirk Varnedoe recalls Donald Judd explaining that people often want art to have instant importance, as if 30 years of relevance could be constructed in the studio, remarking ultimately that what is really necessary is to get away from that importance. Pulitzer, like Judd, is also a critic, and also like Judd, not one to spare the rod. But the reason for this comparison is to readdress what Judd referred to as specific objects in terms of what Pulitzer accomplishes through an avoidance of totalizing gestures, thus opening up for libidinal reconsideration the human coexistence with physical reality. Pulitzer's sculptures demand the audience remain present, and offers no menu for easy digestion. The work in this show, Peaches for "Them”, is five decorative ear gauges, each a fleshy shade, embedded tightly in the wall in an evenly spaced pentagon formation. Ear gauges are used as spacers to stretch the earlobe of the wearer, creating a large hole in the lobe. This body modification, integrated into the structure of the wall, like Ping's bronze plaques, suggests the possibility of libidinal architecture. Pulitzer's work is in denial, but it is precisely through this form of negation that a new experience crystallizes. In a wonderfully sour note, the ear gauges, which through Pulitzer's careful positioning in the wall become so alienated from any possible assignable spectacle, utilize a parallel function: the easy meaning connected to the ear gauges - nostalgia for '90s alternative culture, an underlying motivation of the current technophilia in art - is completely denied. Current variations of technophiliac art are often predicated on the theme of a fictional relationship to science, a kind of poser tech that is akin to playing Guitar Hero instead of guitar. In the same way that Richard Tuttle’s dyed canvas polygon constructions denuded those materials of the fantasies projected upon them by the painting styles that proliferated in the 1960’s, Pulitzer's work strips the petals off anything false around it. This aggression is interesting and valuable.

If Denude has value as the title of this art exhibition, it is because this title has multiple simultaneous utilities. Denude means to strip away, to lay bare. Denude refers to the demolished nature of the physical space this exhibition inhabits, which will soon become a restaurant. And Denude is a possibility for the future, that there might be a way forward in America not by becoming more tolerant, but by stripping falsehoods away.

"But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming "the people" has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy. Difference in hue and hair is old. But the belief in the preeminence of hue and hair, the notion that these factors can correctly organize a society and that they signify deeper attributes, which are indelible - this is the new idea at the heart of these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, deceitfully, to believe that they are white." -Ta-Nehisi Coates, from Between the World and Me

Denude takes place in Los Angeles, at 4330 Sunset Blvd, part of the Solutions Audio-Video Repair shop and the site of a mural painted by the owner, Stefan Lung Liu, as an advertisement for the shop. The mural depicts red and black wires in a psychedelic, swirling S over a white background. This mural was the backdrop for a portrait of Elliot Smith by Autumn de Wilde that was used as the cover of Smith's last album, Figure 8, released April 18, 2000. After Smith died in 2003, the mural became an unofficial memorial. Smith’s enormous influence on the music scene in Los Angeles, and specifically on the culture of Silverlake, has elevated the mural to a symbol of that era and a touchstone for the community. Fans often write Smith’s lyrics on the wall. On the occasion of Denude, we have painted over the original mural with six discrete shades of nude.

for more information please call Mike Ursuta at +1(917) 434-4245