Black Milk: Theories on Suicide

Marvelli Gallery, New York
June 30 – July 31, 2004

Marvelli Gallery is pleased to present Black Milk: Theories on Suicide, a group exhibition curated by Monica Espinel, that brings together young contemporary artists whose work touches on issues related to suicide. The multimedia exhibition will include work by Charles Cohen, Ian Cooper, Elizabeth Gray & Molly Smith, Rachel Howe, Jasmine Kastel, Molly Larkey, Rahshia Linendoll, Tim Maxwell, McCallum & Tarry, Alex McQuilkin, Adam Pendleton, Mike Quinn, Shelly Silver and Angela Strassheim.

As a heightened awareness about mental illness permeates our culture and the taboo surrounding suicide is progressively reduced, works dealing with suicide begin to appear more frequently on the art scene. Focusing on a psychological approach to the subject, the show aims to present an intimate view of this loaded issue. In the works presented there is a pervasive sense of introspection and a psychological complexity that in many cases is tangentially autobiographical.

Rachel Howe’s drawings expose the emotional and psychological tensions of adolescence by looking at the distance between experience and its representation in the media, which tends to objectify the life of teenagers. Shelly Silver presents “Suicide” a feature-length fiction of a woman’s voyages through Asia, Europe and Central America, chronicling her fiercely hopeful and desperate search for a reason to continue living. Angela Strassheim’s beautiful, hyper-realistic and disquieting group of color photographs suggests an allusive narrative that ends in suicide. Molly Larkey creates spare, yet evocative drawings by painstakingly re-creating drafts or sketches of well-known works by artists, writers, and musicians who have taken their own lives.

In “Mood Lighting for the Room Where Dad Should Kill Himself”, Mike Quinn stages an installation of a room comprised of both ready-made objects and original works, where he presents things that people do to combat and veil the pain of everyday life such as sports, drugs and religion. Adam Pendleton’s ambiguously self-empowering and poetic text pieces challenge the viewer to ultimately escape his destiny. Rahshia Linendoll’s series of photographs “Enid” creates a repetitive and overwhelming environment within each photograph, which speaks of the intimate struggle of its self-obsessed character. Ian Cooper’s sculpture of forget-me-not wreaths enclosing phone jacks connected to tangled wires that are configured into a skull, places in the foreground issues like alienation, separation and death. Jasmine Kastel’s “Nancy Jane” is a compelling and honest account of events that have tainted the artist’s view on suicide.

McCallum & Tarry present an associative visual narrative that reveals the struggle to break the cycle of reoccurring suffering and grief. Elizabeth Gray’s video “Cliffwalk” starring Molly Smith is beautiful, surreal and unnerving. Shot on a rocky beach front, the camera follows a woman’s feet in glamorous high heels as she traverses the perilous terrain. The sound of her heels against the rock and the waves crashing below create a repetitive pattern that highlights the tension and discomfort in this ambiguous moment. Charles Cohen presents “Indicators”, an uncontrollable spill of arrows pointing in every direction and functioning as metaphors for a chaotic and dysfunctional state of mind.

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