American Artist: I’m Blue (If I Was █████ I Would Die)
March 1–April 20, 2019
Opening reception: Friday, March 1, 6–9PM
Tuesday, March 5, 7-9 PM: American Artist and Terence Trouillot will be in conversation at the Gallery as part of NADA New York Gallery Open
Upon entering, visitors encounter what initially resembles a classroom with desks, black board, and an instructional video. In a nod towards the Blue Lives Matter countermovement that has developed in response to Black Lives Matter, Artist has sculpturally reconfigured the first two elements. Fortified school desks barricade the video screen, while blue police fabric prevents those sitting in desks from seeing the film. The black board, outfitted with the same familiar blue cloth, only allows those reading from it to speculate on the prominence of blue. Onscreen, in place of an instructional video, visitors instead find a speaking digital character. Fabricated by Artist, the character’s speech interweaves imagined and quoted statements taken from two characters, one fictional, one real.
The first character is DC Comics, Dr. Manhattan. Originally an Atomic-era research physicist, Dr. Osterman is renamed Dr. Manhattan after a terrible accident transfigures him into a cobalt- colored superhuman that is swiftly recuperated by the U.S. military. As fans of the Watchmen series will recall, little time passes before Dr. Manhattan grows disillusioned with the reductive application of his superpowers and in epic move of discontent, he abandons humanity and decamps to Mars.
The second character is Christopher Dorner, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer and Naval reserve officer. In 2013, Dorner came to national attention after explicitly threatening revenge on the LAPD by killing LAPD officers. In an 11-page manifesto, Dorner details his disillusionment with the law enforcement system and claims that he was unjustly fired from the LAPD for breaking with the “Blue Line” by reporting the use of racially biased excessive force on his squad.
As the monologue vacillates towards a narrative crescendo, questions swirl around points of incommensurability and in the wake of tragedy, we are asked to distinguish between the mobilization and the weaponization of grief.
In tandem with this exhibition, American Artist will host a discussion at the gallery, and a series of conversations at Recess as part of Assembly. This exhibition was made possible in part by Pioneer Works Tech Residency.