Ren Loren Britton and Kerry Downey
Read My Lips brings together recent paintings and sculpture made by Ren Loren Britton and video and prints by Kerry Downey. Although working in different media, both artists tangle with representing marginalized bodies, problems of language, and the complexity of subject formation in a binary world.
Downey’s textured monotypes, many of which are embossed or use chine-collé, hang alongside Britton’s anthropomorphic plush sculpture and large four-by-five foot paintings, which sit on blocks. Downey’s projected video piece is paired with several more of Britton’s sculptures — these made to be used as seating.
Both series of work are grounded in a consideration of embodiment. The exhibition title takes the mouth specifically as a site from which to examine some of the central issues of this show: It is a source of language, an entrance to the interior, and a site of desire.
These artists also explore a politic of non-visibility through languages of abstraction. Refusing visibility is an important tenet of the constellation of art practices that have been termed Queer Abstraction, a moniker not without its own limitations. While many queer and feminist artists — Harmony Hammond, Louise Fishman, Joan Snyder, to name just a few — have worked in abstraction since the 1970s, a new generation of queer, genderqueer, and transgender artists are taking up the style to deal with issues of gender, and in this case, to talk about the body without explicitly signifying it. In his recent research, art historian David J. Getsy has asked, “What happens when the body is invoked but not imaged?”
In such a mode of image-making, abstract art exceeds binary constraint; the body is posited as a catalog of sensory experiences and a place of flux. In Britton and Downey’s hands, abstraction becomes a space of infinite possibility where multiplicity is the principal feature. The work plunges us into indeterminacy and makes us step outside of prevailing modes of understanding selfhood and language. There is no finality, no fixed meaning, no stability.
Read My Lips is accompanied by a publication featuring essays by Ashton Cooper and Jennifer Coates.
November 5: Opening reception, 7pm-9pm (After party with DJ Robi D Light 9pm-late)
November 12: Round table discussion, 5pm
December 8: Poetry reading, 8pm
December 16: WOAHMONE party, 10pm-late