This American Life is an exhibition about stories, how they are conjured, how they are communicated, and how they relate to lived experience. These accounts are freighted in race, in gender, and in sexuality. It is also about the relationship between contemporary art and its reframing of the imagery of American culture. While negotiating the skewed protocols of media, the loops and networks of distribution, this constellation of artworks insist upon the intimacy and proliferation of artistic experimentation.
The artworks on view can be seen through the filter of language and media. Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin's work deftly reflects emerging cultural shifts that represent changes in the perception of collective value systems – forming new understandings and revealing new meanings. Robin F. Williams refigures the form to build a new way of picturing, generously intervening into pop culture and cultivating multilayered narratives that challenge the viewer. Martine Syms offers a visual memoir of contemporary American life, exploring the power of the gesture, and embedded assumptions concerning gender and racial inequities.
Most of the imagery concerns America, its tragicomic stories of its heroes and heroines mingled with the material of daily life. Tension is the central force surrounding these works, enhancing the mystery of the given story such as the haunted urban landscapes and scenes of Dena Yago, or the compressed metaphors and dense patterns present in the works of Borna Sammak. In other cases, the works bring to light the absurd realities of contemporary life, as in the work of Calvin Marcus, who places the viewer at the heart of the humor.
The artists in This American Life intervene, dissecting narratives and reassembling them to offer a new perspective. In the process, fresh truths are revealed and a deeper insight into our shared American experience emerges.
Lizzie Fitch, Calvin Marcus, Borna Sammak, Martine Syms, Ryan Trecartin, Robin F. Williams, and Dena Yago.