Erica Scourti, “Body Scan”, 2014, HD single-channel video, 5 minutes 3 seconds
Emma Bee Bernstein, Alex McQuilkin, Erica Scourti, Jessie Stead, Mickalene Thomas, Martha Wilson
September 18 – October 19, 2015
Opening Reception, Friday September 18, 6-9pm
Microscope Gallery returns for the 2015-16 season with the exhibition PLAY, featuring recent, historical, previously unseen and newly discovered video-based works by Emma Bee Bernstein, Alex McQuilkin, Erica Scourti, Jessie Stead, Mickalene Thomas, and Martha Wilson, most on view for the first time in New York.
Definitions of play – as in the record button, in the interaction with the technology, in the performance, in the approach, or in the game – connect the videos, video installations, mixed-media and sculptural works addressing the subjects of mass media, identity, and stereotypes, among others, with humor and deceptive simplicity.
The oldest and newest works in terms of the technology, separated by 40 years, are built upon the use of the artist’s own body in the work as both subject and surface. Wilson’s “I have become my own worst fear/Deformation” (2009) is a mixed-media installation presented as a conversation loop between the artist’s younger self in her 1974 video “Deformation”, shot on ½ inch analog video tape, in which she exaggerates her “worst” features through makeup to become as ugly as possible – in her eyes of the time – and the photographic recreation of the video’s final scene when she is 35 years older. While in “Body Scan”(2014), the Greece-born, London-based Erica Scourti uses CamFind, an image recognition and search app for iPhone, as a game played with her lover, scanning her unclothed self to receive often amusing, at other times sobering results from the virtual world.
Thomas’s painting and video diptych “Oh, Mickey”, made the year Obama was elected, layers commentary on social, racial and economic themes. Both the rhinestone, acrylic and enamel painting and framed video depict the same black woman, on the painting in close up from the thighs down wearing tube socks and red heels, and on video from a wider angle as otherwise naked in a living room, before a partially concealed American flag, singing to the cheerleader-chants of Toni Basil’s 1980s hit of the same title.
McQuiklin’s 2013 video “Magic Moments (Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl)” offers a direct critique on the stereotype of the American girl as promoted by the media, accompanied by a decadent acoustic version of the “Star Spangled Banner”. The steady stream of excerpts from movies, advertisements, fashion and music videos trap the viewer in a world of dreamy, supposedly carefree, overwhelming white and thin girls, who pose and smile vapidly, while their long hair flows free in the wind.
In “Emma Photo Booth” by Emma Bee Bernstein (1985-2008), a previously unseen work from autumn 2008 and titled posthumously, the 23-year old artist, as in her earlier photographs and Polaroids, performs as herself, this time positioned in front of her laptop with Apple’s Photo Booth as a mirror. Bernstein’s 13-minute narration of biographical events, starting with name, age and occupation(s) are presented in a manner suggestive of reality show audition tapes, shifting between wit, irony, and disenchantment as she delivers the thoughts of a “girl” hit hard by adulthood realities.
Finally, Brooklyn-based artist Jessie Stead’s new video installation “Runaway Interludes / 20 Channel Jamboree vol. 7 (Admission)”, composed of flickering strips of “admit one” tickets projected onto clear plastic bears containing game pieces and DVD’s, challenges the audience to part in her playground filled with game-like narratives, structures and elements culled from mass culture, but with the rules unknown.
Emma Bee Bernstein, “Emma Photo Booth”, 2008, single-channel video, 13 minutes
PLAY opens on Friday September 18 from 6-9pm, coinciding with the gallery’s 5th anniversary, and runs through October 19, 2015.
For inquiries please contact the gallery by email at email@example.com or by phone 347.925.1433.
Emma Bee Bernstein was born in 1985 in New York and died in 2008 in Venice, Italy. Her works exhibited previously at Microscope Gallery in the solo show “Exquisite Fucking Boredom” curated by Phong Bui. Her works have also exhibited in solo shows at the University of Chicago and Janet Kurnatowski Gallery in New York. Group shows include “Come Together Sandy” at Industry City in Brooklyn and at A.I.R. Gallery, NY, the Smart Museum, Chicago, and at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her book GirlDrive: Criss-Crossing America, Redefining Feminism, co-authored with Nona Willis Aronowitz, was published by Seal Press in 2009. Belladonna #4, which features her writing and photographs, was also published that same year.
Alex McQuilkin’s work in the mediums of video, drawing, collage and sculpture explores the role of pop culture imagery in defining female identity and the power structures embedded within artifice. Her work has been exhibited internationally since 2000, including group exhibitions at MoMA PS1, KW Institut, Museo Reina Sofia, Centre Pompidou, and Schirn Kunsthalle. McQuilkin was born in 1980 in Boston, MA. She received her BA and MFA from New York University and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Erica Scourti was born in Athens, Greece and now lives in London. In 2013 she completed a Master of Research degree (with Distinction) in Moving Image Art at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design, run in conjunction with LUX. Her area of research was the figure of the female fool in performative video works and the mediated subject of networked capital. Her work in video, performance, online and with text has been shown recently at FACT, Hayward Project Space, The Photographers’ Gallery, Brighton Photo Biennial, Kunstverein Munich, Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Museo Reine Sofia, Kunstmuseum Bonn, IMPAKT Festival, Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art, Banner Repeater and Grand Union. She has presented performances and talks at the ICA, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, DRAF and the Southbank Centre. She has completed residencies at I-Park Artists’ Enclave, USA; LOW&HIGH, Folkestone, UK, LABA film workshop, Athens, Vermont Studio Center, USA and at The Guesthouse, Cork , Catwalk, upstate New York (September 2014), plus an INFRA_SPECTION Residency at London’s White Building, and a residency at Wysing Arts Centre in 2015.
Jessie Stead works in overlapping patterns of cinema, installation, music and other forms of cross-disciplined art. Posing as a film director in an on-going IRL performance piece, her motion-pictures have been screened internationally, including at the Greater New York Cinema exhibition at MoMA PS1. Collaborative events, performances, and installations have been presented at a wide variety of venues such as Performa 13, Fridericianum, Akershus Kunstsenter, Real Fine Arts, nightclubs and many other places. Solo exhibitions include Soloway, New York, 247365, New York, and Jan Kaps, Cologne, Germany. Stead received an MFA from Bard College in 2007, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Mickalene Thomas is best known for combining art-historical, political, and pop-cultural references to create striking figurative and nonfigurative landscapes. Thomas’s first solo museum exhibition was in 2012 at the Brooklyn Museum and Santa Monica Museum of Art. Recent solo exhibitions include George Eastman House, New York; L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, Monaco; and First International Contemporary Art Biennial, Columbia. Her work has been shown in numerous group exhibitions, including at La Conservera Contemporary Art Center, Ceutí, Spain; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Hara Museum, Tokyo; National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; and Saatchi Gallery, London. Thomas’s work is in the permanent collections of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as the Detroit Institute of Arts, Seattle Art Museum, and Smithsonian American Art Museum, among many others. Mickalene Thomas is represented by Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago and Berlin; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Project; and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris and Brussels. She was born in 1971 in New Jersey and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Martha Wilson (b. Philadelphia, PA) lives and works in New York. Written into and out of art history according to the theories and convictions of the time, Wilson first gained notoriety thanks to the attention of curator Lucy R. Lippard, who placed Wilson’s early efforts within the context of conceptual art and the work of women artists. As Founding Director of Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc., Wilson was described by The New York Times critic Holland Cotter in 2008 as one of “the half-dozen most important people for art in downtown Manhattan in the 1970s.” She was a founding member in 1978 of DISBAND (including Ilona Granet, Donna Henes, Ingrid Sischy and Diane Torr), the all-girl conceptual feminist punk rock band of artists who couldn’t play any instruments, and has since performed in the guises of political figures, including Alexander Haig, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, and Tipper Gore. In 2008, she had her first solo exhibition in New York at Mitchell Algus Gallery, Martha Wilson: Photo/Text Works, 1971-74; in 2009, Martha Wilson: Staging the Self began international travel under the auspices of ICI (Independent Curators International); and in 2011, ICI published the Martha Wilson Sourcebook: 40 Years of Reconsidering Performance, Feminism, Alternative Spaces. Martha Wilson joined P.P.O.W Gallery in 2011 and mounted a solo exhibition, I have become my own worst fear, that September.
Martha Wilson, “Deformation”, 1974, single-channel video, 8 minutes