Tom Burckhardt, Jason Phillips, William Norton and Performances by Dirty Churches
February 10th, 2022 – March 13th, 2022
OPENING RECEPTION: Wednesday, February 10th, 6pm–8pm
Gallery Hours: Fri-Sun, 1pm-6pm (and by appointment)
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU
“In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and darted away again with a curving flight. It was the police patrol, snooping into people’s windows. The patrols did not matter, however. Only the Thought Police mattered.”
George Orwell published “1984” in June 1949 as his horrified vision of the totalitarian state. Propaganda becomes the facile fabrication of news, organized by the state to manipulate the populace into passivity and fear. The never-ending war controls the narrative necessary for keeping the workers satisfied with their never-ending drudgery and starvation lifestyles. The Cult of Personality enforced by the Secret Police and their constant mass surveillance are no longer our most feared distant future, with facial recognition software operating through every cameraon every corner we are now constantly watched and monitored. In Britain, people are happily living in one of the most ‘watched’ societies on Earth, with an estimated five million security cameras watching people. In China, cameras armed with facial recognition are used by police to pick out criminals even in large crowds. Our own online shopping and research are constantly monitored to send us advertisements.
“Promote Peace”, “Left Curve”, “Do Not Enter”, “Dead End”, “South and North”, “Blind Drive” are just a few of Tom Burckhardt’s recent series of Road Sign paintings created during the covid lockdown. When viewed in today’s acrimonious political climate these seemingly innocuoueveryday signs develop new interpretations. They take a turn into the realm of the sinister and become a wry look at the world we are daily passing through. Does the “Left Curve” suggest a political course or is it really just a sign we see so often we no longer think about its other potentials? The art critic John Yau described Burckhardt’s aim as to “destabilize the grand tradition of painting and sculpture while simultaneously finding non-nostalgic ways to honor them.” Tom successfully does that with these images also.
David Pagel of the LA Times says: “Jason Phillips is at his best when the shapes of his paintings accentuate the stories they depict. For example, the devastating isolation you might feel if you were on a burning sailboat in the middle of the sea is given vivid visual form by 20 vertical inches of sickly yellow sky that weigh down on a minuscule boat, which seems even more helpless and insignificant than its tiny size suggests.”
As Phillips said to Etty Yanev in ArtSpiel, January 22, 2021, his “paintings represent the ‘going wrong’ aspect of our collective choices, and position a central question: what can be done?” His newest painting was actually begun 6 years ago and is inspired by Albert Pinkham Ryder’s “Race Track (Death on a Pale Horse)” and “The Triumph of Death” by Bruegel, but felt too harsh at that moment, however now due to the accelerated deterioration of the state of our country and our world it has become the right time to speak these images.
William Norton is an artist and independent curator who, in the past 7 years, has mounted 35 exhibitions of contemporary artists. As an artist he has shown extensively in the US, Japan, and Europe; been reviewed in Vasari21, featured in ArtCritical for his solo show at the M David & Co., and was even generously featured by Hrag Vartanian of Hyperallergic in a TikTok review. From January 2020 through November 2021, during the pandemic, he ran –the gallery LTD– in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, giving voice to his community when it was needed most. These monthly exhibitions were reviewed multiple times by Etty Yanev for ArtSpiel, William Corwin in Gallery & Studio Arts Journal, and others.
Regarding his artwork, in a recent interview with the Galleria Balmain in London, he stated “My work has been long involved with researching the effects of politicized thinking in religious indoctrination and manhood’s societal rites of passage. Currently I’m plumbing the coward’s depths of the testosterone overdrive that fuels the anonymity and militarization of the police state’s manhood myths. From the arrests, rapes, torture, murder, and disappearance of the often young protesters for democracy in Hong Kong to the violent denial of America’s racist foundations and history I am casting these demons into images.”
Dirty Churches is a collaborative, New York based performance art collective that explores the intersections of myth, ritual, and music through theatrical performances.The group consists of music director and founder Jesse Gelaznik, art director Rachel Blackwell, choreography /dance duo Alexandra Jacob and Constantine Alexis and musician H.Leon Harris.
La MaMa Galleria said this about Dirty Churches and their opera “Era of Good Feelings”- “Dirty Churches manipulates the boundaries of theater, installation, and sculpture, orchestrating characters as they travel through layered compositions that utilize mysticism and speculative fiction to articulate conditions of our current times and ways of being.”
Jesse Gelaznik’s music was also recently exhibited as the multi-channel audio component of Andréa Stanislav’s immersive installation “Surmatants-Mars Rising” at the Mattress Factory Museum in 2021. The video of this installation recently premiered on WQED-PBS’s TV show Film Maker’s Corner – Season 13. His illustrations have been called “Stunning and Eye Catching” by the New York Times for his work on Theater in Quarantine’s “Footnote for the End of Time” and his music for the film H. screened at Sundance and the MoMA.
Dirty Churches will be presenting both a live performance and video selections of past works.