Form + Content Gallery
Party Party in a Tweety Land b/w This Republic of Suffering
Group exhibition at Form + Content Gallery in Minneapolis.
Thursday, August 28 - Saturday, October 4, 2008
Opening Reception Saturday, September 6th, 6:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Gallery hours: Thursday – Saturday, 12:00 – 6:00 p.m. and by appointment
Form + Content Gallery
Whitney Square Building
210 North 2nd Street, Suite 104
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Adopting the A/B side structure of a 45 rpm pop record of years past Party Party in a Tweety Land b/w This Republic of Suffering contemplates the tensions between suffering and denial, grief and self-absorption, and the real losses buried under the flotsam of a consumer and celebrity obsessed culture.
In a world where the human suffering inflicted by wars, natural disasters, hunger, drug addiction and other natural and manmade causes feels ever-present, people are increasingly becoming numb to the plight of others. Overwhelmed by the enormity of suffering and mired in frustration with how to alleviate it, some retreat into private worlds. Others distract themselves with celebrity infatuation or indulge in decadent behavior to keep the world at bay. Some find transcendence and meaning for their own suffering through religious models.
The exhibition was co-curated by Colleen Sheehy, director of education at the Weisman Art Museum, and Camille J. Gage, a Minneapolis artist and co-founder of Form + Content Gallery,
Artists in the Exhibition
Party Party in a Tweety Land b/w This Republic of Suffering explores these tensions and divides in the American psyche through the work of eight Minnesota artists: Christopher Baker, Harriet Bart, Kim Benson, Kristi Bretskie, Jaron Childs, Philip Harder, Jenny Schmid, Scott Seekins, and Javier Tavera.
More about Party Party in a Tweety Land b/w This Republic of Suffering
In the Party Party in a Tweety Land section of the exhibition, Christopher Baker presents a color print based on his video installation, Hello World! or: How I Learned to Stop Listening and Love the Noise. Featuring dozens of excerpts from people’s private video diaries on YouTube, the work speaks of intense self-absorption and retreat into a private world of the internet.
Philip Harder uses film and video to parody contemporary commercial advertising. His recent short film, iRaq, employs familiar advertising imagery to re-present the violence of war, both on the front in Iraq and at detention facilities like Abu Graib.
Scott Seekins has created a series of works on pop star Brittany Spears that reflects Americans’ obsessions with the lives and downfalls of the famous, a sign, he believes, of “the fall of empire.”
Javier Tavera has photographed raucous rave events where audiences witness and participate in debauched, extreme performances.
This Republic of Suffering includes paintings by Jaron Childs, who translates images found by searching Google Images into dolorous paintings of grieving subjects. Though they remain anonymous and the reason for their mournful states remain unknown, Childs’s figures invoke a sad familiarity as they recall ubiquitous media coverage of myriad recent tragedies.
Harriet Bart has created REQUIEM a spare and elegant installation in remembrance of the soldiers killed in action in the war in Iraq. Paper scrolls inscribed with the names of the more than 4,000 KIA troops cascade from ceiling height and spill down the wall to the floor. A cast metal plumb bob hovers in front of each scroll marking the intersection of the vertical and the horizontal, what writer John Berger calls, “home…the center of the world…”
Jenny Schmid’s lithographs evoke the quandaries of living in a contradictory world through her imaginary couples, The Libertines and The Nihilists.
Kim Benson presents paintings that intertwine images of wounded Arabs with portraits of herself and members of her immediate family. These paintings blur the boundaries between self and other and serve as witness to a pain that transcends geographic boundaries.
Kristie Bretzkie’s paintings capture the faces of homeless panhandlers with quiet dignity. The faces of her diverse subjects offer myriad emotions from defiance to desperation.
Xavier Tavera, the only artist to have work on both the “A” and “B” sides of this exhibition, photographed Latino men, women, and children re-enacting the passion of Christ during Holy Week at a church in South Minneapolis. His dramatic images poignantly convey the intense identification these actors feel toward the suffering Christ, someone who makes their own travails take on deeper meaning.
About the curators
Colleen Sheehy is director of education at the Weisman Art Museum and teaches art history and museum studies at the University of Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas, and College of Visual Art. With a Ph.D. in American studies, she has curated more than twenty exhibitions. Her interests include art and social engagement, intersections between visual culture and popular music, landscape and environmental issues, and museums as responsive institutions.
Camille J. Gage is a Minneapolis artist and musician with a keen interest in public and topical work. A founding member of Form + Content Gallery, she has exhibited or performed at the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the Weisman Art Museum, among others. She was also a co-founder of Tetes Noires, one of the first all-female bands in the country, and as such wrote and recorded three LPs, toured nationally, and performed in venues such as The Bottom Line, CBGBs and Folk City. She continues to write and perform pop and rock music.
“Party Party in a Tweety Land” is taken from a lyric from the 2008 song “Trip Out” by British Sea Power, a tune that makes vague references to the apocalypse on their new album Do You Like Rock Music? This Republic of Suffering refers to a 2008 book by Drew Gilpin Faust, an American historian and president of Harvard University. Her book examines the impact of the enormous number of deaths in the Civil War on American ideas about death, mourning, and remembrance (used with permission for this exhibition). The structure of A and B sides to the exhibition is inspired by the San Antonio-based artist Dario Robleto, who often creates A and B sides to his sculptures and whose work is informed by popular music.