Curated by Eve Biddle at Davidson Gallery, NYC 2010
The emblems of American society reflect a new animism that we worship both knowingly and unawares: Money, Multi-Culturalism, TV, Security, Machismo, Violence, Technology, Progress — among so many other gods. American demons give us strength but whether we let them control us, attempt to exorcise them, or simply don't realize their power, our relationship with them is manic and reflects our collective struggle with American identity. American Demonic presents nine artists whose works illustrate and harness these spirits. By illuminating what hides in the shadows of American consciousness, perhaps we can position ourselves for a confrontation with our demons.
John Delk presents iconic American objects repurposed and resurfaced: an American flag dipped in candy apple syrup traps our most emblematic symbol in viscous kitsch; a universal remote cast in lead deadens our ability to consume. Masha Lifshin distills real estate browsing into a web-based work of art, toying with aspirations of money and status. The manipulation of advertising has been further perverted, revealing a base simplification of what we deem compelling. In a political climate rife with shovel-ready projects, Kelly Goff's exploration of beauty, futility, and machismo in the essential world of construction calls on us to question our ambitions of safety and progress. Of Dominican and Norwegian roots, Las Hermanas Iglesias created Everybody Likes to Dance, a multicultural mash-up exploring both their mixed heritage and their protean relationship to it. Las Hermanas invite viewers to join in the dance under a sky of custom disco balls reminiscent of an American high school prom. Lisa Iglesias represents the American spirit in her Rodeo Series by acknowledging the cultural iconography of bucking horses and bulls. Isolated from their context, they become grotesque, and separate from their romantic mythology. Sarah Hardesty's fragile installation shows the modularity and ephemeral nature of how we relate to our demons. The relationship is tenuous, vulnerable and, when broken, capable of surviving by rearranging into something new.
Eliza Myrie examines race, sex, class, and politics through a filter that is neither righteous nor expository. Her work is evocative but not didactic, allowing the viewer to confront socially pervasive issues with which we are often unable to cope. Matthew Watson subverts the technique and craftsmanship of the Old Masters in his hyper-realistic portraits of transients. The obsessive skill and detail awe the viewer, imbuing the subject matter with an eerie care, elevating them to aspiration. William Wiley reminds us that even in the constant and consistent tragedy of war and politics, there is humor. Thank god, or whatever demon possesses you today.