Aicon New York is pleased to present Radical Enchantments, a guest-curated group exhibition featuring ambitious works by eight artists. The exhibition asks: how do contemporary artists resist oppression with enchantment—that is, with artwork that connects to the divine?
For example, in Rina Banerjee’s wall-bound sculpture, The Earth as a Company (detail left), neon-yellow, nylon tubes make an arterial connection between a pair of horns that seem to drip with hair. This form suggests a hairy beast summoned to life with a Frankenstein-like alchemy. Banerjee uses the enlivening, electrifying powers, what might be called the witchcraft of art, to resist the deadening, numbing, or killing effects of global capitalism. The horns, as if a carcass leftover after deforestation, capitalist extraction, the “earth as a company,” are now shocked into a new being, perhaps even a deity, emerging from the wall.
The artist Max Colby’s sculpture They Consume Each Other #1 is a group of eight baroquely beaded, textile-, floral- and feather-decorated sculptures with phallus-like forms emerging from catholicly trimmed pillows—some perched upon glass columns. Produced from mundane materials, yet sparkling like precious, gem-encrusted chalices pulled fresh from a rectory cabinet, this unapologetically luscious tableaux could be called an “altarpiece.” But, as she describes it, this altarpiece, if you like, “reimagine[s] our relationship to gender, sex, class, and the mundane from a trans and non-binary perspective.”
The artists in this show enchant with a subtle use of materials. But in so doing they voice resistance to oppression. Their works are like oracles or constellations in the sky: beacons that guide the viewer to imagine important forms of political and social change.
The exhibition deepens to consider the private, intimate spaces of the artists’ studios. These spaces might be understood as the artists’ “cloisters” or “chapels.” Personal items from their studios exhibited alongside their artworks demonstrate an intimate practice of delivering divinity to fight oppression.
Artists include Rina Banerjee, Max Colby, Alison Saar, Jason Vartikar, T. Venkanna, Autumn Wallace, Charlie Williams, and Alisha B. Wormsley. Curator Jason Vartikar is a Joan Tisch Teaching Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Co-Curator Erica Kyung is Sales Associate at Aicon.
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Opening Reception: May 5, 6:00-8:00 pm