New works by Peggy Ahwesh
March 18 through April 16
Opening reception Sunday March 18, 6-9PM
We are pleased to present INSIDE CIRCLE a solo exhibition by media artist Peggy Ahwesh. The inspiration for the exhibit is a series of personal voice mail messages left over a 10-year period by Ahwesh’s long-time friend and collaborator Natalka Voslakov, who died this December. For INSIDE CIRCLE Ahwesh incorporates elements of sound, anamorphic photographs, record players, and video to contemplate the nature and limits of friendship and continues her exploration of cultural identity and the role of the subject, recurrent themes in her body of work for more than 20 years.
For the installation, Ahwesh has transferred Voslakov’s voicemails, “a massive inventory of her diatribes and confessions, complaints and self deprecations”, which Voslakov considered an art project, on to records that play simultaneously. Operating with a related sense of rotation, repetition and distortion are a series of photographs inspired by the two friends’ shared rust-belt backgrounds. In these works, Ahwesh employs anamorphosis – a technique historically used to obscure objectionable content such as the erotic, scatological, occult, or religious – to create the images, but has omitted the mechanism needed to decode them. Additionally mixed mediea works and a program of six 60 second videos by Ahwesh are also on view.
“Franklin Street, 2″, pigment print, 12 x 12″, 2012 , framed , ed. 1 of 3
Pittsburgh Tiles, 12 x 12″, pigment print, 2012, framed, ed. 1 of 3
Peggy Ahwesh is a media artist who got her start in the 1970′s with feminism, punk and amateur Super 8 filmmaking. Ahwesh says “These formats, points of view, political positions and life styles inspired by those areas of investigation remain relevant today and linger with a trace on everything I do.”
Ahwesh has exhibited worldwide including most recently at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Goethe House, NYC; The Tate Modern, London; The Virginia Museum of Art; Microscope Gallery, NYC; James Gallery, NYC; and Guggeheim Museum, Bilboa. She has been featured at the Whitney Biennial (1991, 1995, 1997, 2002, 2008), The American Century at the Whitney 2000, and WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution 2008, P.S.1, Queens, NY. Her works are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Library of Congress. She has received grants and awards from many organizations including Jerome Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, Creative Capital, NYSC and the prestigious Alpert Award in the Arts. Peggy Ahwesh is Professor of Film & Electronic Arts at Bard College where she has taught for many years. She was born in Pittsburgh, PA and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Excerpt of an answering machine message from Natalka Voslakov during the summer of 1994:
“Peggy . . . You should never leave your phone number on the answering machine. You might have a Fatal Attraction. Some kook gets your number and starts to stalk you or something. Well, you’re either sleeping or you’re out. Since it’s, let’s see, it’s 2 in the morning, maybe you’re sleeping. One never knows with you. I didn’t call you to just ask you about what I should do and my problems. 1′l1 shut up for a change. . . but, the suicide pack exists, baby. If we don’t have our features done by the millennium. . . ’cause we got to be there. And I’m in the minus, minus 97 bucks in the bank account. I know I owe you 140 bucks but I bounced my phone bill and the proofs from the lab, can’t pay for them. Now the 14th is this Saturday . . . get on the bus or whatever. You got to be here for the big opening of the Warhol Museum. Everybody wants to see you. We have to go together. We should be in it. . . our films projected at the opening. It has nothing to do with the talent, it’s the timing. It helps if you have some real talent, but. . . Madonna, who has no talent but is a hell of a business woman, I give her credit for her business brain. That’s all she has going for her. That and. . . hey, I was a post‑modernist sex symbol long before Madonna, you know that. The coup d’etat will be, the first people that get it on in the Warhol Museum. Who come out of the bathroom with smiles on their faces. Even though I’m minus 97 bucks. can’t get the phone turned off and I can’t have the gas turned off. . . Notice how hyper I am. I took two B6s. Wait ’til I tell you, oh the kind of men I’ve been meeting. I just want to make money for you and, for me. I care about us making our work. And I’ve been talking to the few decent men, the 3 or 4 around town here. They say, “You American women better get your act together and tell your stories. It’s your time”. Damn straight. With what I’ve learned over the last years. . . hopefully I’ve learned something (laughs). . hopefully I’ll figure it out. . .”
From “Film, baby” by Peggy Ahwesh (Catalogue essay for Big As Life: An American History of 8mm Film presented at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.)
Left: Picture Disk #2 (with image Winter Construction), 12″ acetate disc with original photograph, unique artifact, sound recording ‘The Geisha Life’ (running time 8:47 min), 2012
Right: Still from the video Collections (color, silent, 1 minute, 2008)