1700 S Santa Fe Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Vielmetter Los Angeles is excited to announce our second solo exhibition with the artist collective, My Barbarian. Working together across live performance, performance for the camera, and object making, Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon, and Alexandro Segade have been working collaboratively for more than twenty years. Using strategies pulled from global and historical avant-garde theater as well as institutional critique and conceptual art, the trio makes work that explores the affective realities, ingrained mythologies, and imagined pasts and futures of capitalism.
In an era of face filters on social media and "personal protective equipment," who among us is not, at this time, a maskworker? Drawing from radical, queer, feminist and of-color performance lineages, critically adapting classical forms such as Commedia Dell’Arte and Noh, and playfully mixing in references to Sci-Fi and Horror movies, My Barbarian has worked with masks throughout their long collaboration. In Maskworkers, My Barbarian presents new porcelain masks, cut paper collages, and body-scale standelabra sculptures and video projections. These performing objects are inspired by alter egos drawn from the fictive worlds in My Barbarian’s performance repertoire.
Masks become uncanny synecdoches when removed from their context on the body and mounted to the wall of the gallery. The body that should animate the mask is absent while the character that the mask creates is clearly present. Relics that connect theater and ritual, masks transform the wearer into a character, spirit, personification, revealing this imagined other as they obscure the face, identity, self. Maskwork refers to the techniques of the body that animate the mask through performance.
The presence and absence of the performing body is toyed with throughout the exhibition from the porcelain masks, to the sculptural standelabras that stand in for entire previous performance works as well as the bodies of the performers, to a large-scale projection of the trio demonstrating movements related to masked performance and documentation of Broke People's Baroque Peoples' Theater. Elegant, colorful cut paper collages depict the fables, mythologies, and rituals related to the other objects in the exhibition. Inspired in part by surrealist drawing games, and artists such as Leonora Carrington, Nicki de Sainte-Phalle, and Nicolas Moufarrege, these collaborative artworks are made by Jade Gordon, who creates free-form abstract watercolors, and Alexandro Segade, whose drawings provide templates for the watercolors to be cut into and painstakingly re-assembled, resulting in a collaborative collage.
Founded in 2000, My Barbarian is an artist collective whose practice brings social issues and their representations in mass media and historical texts into theatrical interpretation via performance, video, music, and interdisciplinary venues. Most recently, a twenty-year survey of their collaborative work was presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the ICALA. They have been included in Performance Biennials such as the Whitney Biennial, two California Biennials, the Montreal Biennial, and the Baltic Triennial. Their work has been presented at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; ICA Museum, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; The Kitchen, New York; The New Museum, New York, internationally at Museo El Eco, Mexico City; De Appel, Amsterdam; Townhouse Gallery, Cairo; The Power Plant, Toronto; El Matadero, Madrid, and many more. Their work is in the public collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Princeton University Art Museum. Following their exhibition at Vielmetter, My Barbarian will present new work at the Nottingham Contemporary and the Whitney Museum in 2023 and 2024 respectively.