SPRING/BREAK Art Show will return for it's eighth year in 2019. The 2019 theme is FACT AND FICTION.
“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Punctured by the printing press, defeated by the photograph, Fine Art’s urgency for scientifically rendering human perception in the 21st Century seems to have come to a full stop. Nonetheless, a dialog between Abstraction and Representation still toggles, with artists suggesting a strata of nuanced vantage points along the art-maker’s expressions of the Real.
As Abstraction and Representation have linked arms in a dance, so have artists with their own self-identification within a work. For better or worse, artist identities and lives are more and more considered alongside their artworks, rather than exterior to them as Wilde once advised, and the artist’s personal morality within that work also plumbed, with increasing vigilance, to further defy the Preface of The Portrait of Dorian Grey.
In this way, the “fact” of a person and their environment—the artist and their world—and the “fiction” of their creation—their art—feel blended more than ever.
In light of this osmosis, SPRING/BREAK Art Show 2019 seeks similar inquiries into the paradoxes of FACT AND FICTION. The 2019 exhibition aims for works dealing with self-mythology, history, memory, cultural conspiracy, propaganda, appropriation, psychedelia, and/or a focus on subjects related to the utterly un-provable—the occult, religious, pseudoscientific, and pseudohistorical, pseudepigraphica to mythopoetica.
In current events, the Symbol, or signifier, has begun overshadowing signified as a sometimes-stand-in for the Real. To some, a 2017 painting by Dana Schutz symbolizing racism became racism. To others, terms ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news’, suggesting the impossibility of Objective Truth on the one hand, became Objective Truth on the other. A potential Supreme Court Justice’s past transgressions feel symbolic of his ability to judge the law to many, legal validation of claims notwithstanding, and a president’s pure embodiment of success, in PR braggadocio alone, is enough to keep hundreds of thousands of his superfans enamored.
Accounting for the power of this symbolism within the realities of 21st Century life, the primacy of the insinuation, and the spirit of something ‘feeling’ like it’s true (even when it is)—SPRING/BREAK Art Show 2019 will explore exhibitions that contend with this tug of war between real and unreal, symbolic and literal, fact and fiction, for-real and ideal.
References in the current art landscape include but are not limited to Sophie Calle’s queasy voyeurisms, Richard Prince’s aesthetic thefts, Bryan Zanisnik's familial performance installations. Genevieve Gaignard and Cindy Sherman blur the self, with every photograph transposing themselves into Pop cultural shorthand, while Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger engage with the visual language of marketing and propaganda, avoiding autobiography altogether. Gregory Crewdson captures cinematic snapshots of the American unreal, nesting intimate domestic guilt within epic 1980’s genre movie landscapes, borrowing from a language that framed our home lives as Reagan-era kids, where Azikiwe Mohammad paints the true intricacies of his family history and life, with brush strokes far from photorealism. Red Grooms engages historic figures and events in his often cartoon-like pieces, Peter Saul paints surreal hypercolor roadmaps of real political intricacies. Consider the family role-reversal photography of Zhiyuan Yang, the fantasy newspaper headline paintings of Guy Richard Smit, Shona McAndrew’s swapping out of more typical Classical sculpture subjects for herself, and the myriad of other working artists of today and yesterday infusing their artifice with realism, or couching reality with a formalist plea for the unproven.
Philosopher Francis Bacon suggested truth was the child of time. With so little room to see the big picture with Contemporary Art, how do artists today wrestle with fiction in order to approximate a truth ahead of time? When is art a lie that reveals the Truth in the way Picasso meant it? When does this simulation of the real become the real, as Jean Baudrillard supposed?
As the musician Steve Dallas once said of J.J. Hunsecker, ‘you’ve got more twists than a barrel of pretzels!’ People, please show us the anatomy of these many salty bends.
FEMMEBIT: SCREEN AS PERSONA is curated by Janna Avner, Sharsten Plenge, Dahn Gim, Kate Parsons, Eva Aguila, and Richelle Gribble.