17 January – 20 February 2014
Josh Lilley is thrilled to launch the 2014 program with the first show at the gallery for Brooklyn-based artist Anissa Mack.
The works in Body Copy are a collection; a collection of objects that reference the abstract, the vernacular and the found, and focus at all times on the continuous reinvention of memory. Investigating nostalgia and perceived experience in her practice, Mack presents a show created from reflected and altered images, heralding objects that allow for misremembering and distortion. This specific group focuses on ideas of repetition and fragmentation in order to create a narrative and dialogue about the representational role of objects within our daily lives.
With affinity to both craft and outsider art traditions as well as the austere forms of Minimalism, Mack has often been drawn to motifs from the American vernacular such as quilts, masks, or needlepoint cross-stitch patterns — elements that in themselves exist as multiples in the world. Her quilt works are based on traditional American craft patterns in which the perspective has been distorted, causing the forms to push and pull from the wall creating optical illusions. Her sculptural casts of quilts in aquaresin, standing rigid and upright leaning against — and at other times hanging from — the wall, display a material shift that is crucial to her, as the casting becomes a direct physical impression where the object is "full of itself", taking on the unstable identity of a surrogate form.
Work in the exhibition physically creates or surrounds other works. Shape, texture and imagery echo through the gallery, stressing that it is the space and distance between the pieces where a viewer can find meaning. Mack builds a collection that points towards nostalgic reflections, at times twisting the veracity of the object in question. This can be seen in both Body Copy pieces, where newer works (casts) surround and envelope older works in order to make something hybrid and new. The cast pieces are themselves copies of other things, while the arrowhead pieces that they surround are importantly not real arrowheads. Instead they are just sharp rocks, or flint flakes arranged as one might display a collection of arrowheads. Her intrigue is that in this format they become a fantastical collection, suggesting a need to place narrative and desire in objects through possession.
In her Pewter works & Teeth, she makes casts from rubber moulds that were initially taken from aquaresin casts. For Mack these multiple generations of artworks are thought of as memories - the more we remember something the more likely it is to be colored by current context, and less empirically true. Memory becomes a creative and almost sculptural act for her, with the works in the exhibition an attempt to capture this process. This repetition and reworking allow Mack to push the original thing into the distance, allowing for secondary and tertiary commentaries on what she has come to regard as relics — objects now somehow sacred due to imposed and implied narratives, despite being often banal or normal when viewed alone.
Fantasy and the encouragement to engage give us all a capacity to invest power and meaning in the objects around us. When discussing her legs sculpture in the show, Mack mentioned the influence of reliquaries and devotional objects — that just a fragment of a clearly painted plaster leg in a church can come to represent something much more profound, despite the accepted acknowledgment that it is not part of a real leg at all. Mack displays the lapses and faults in memory, and our bastardisation of it. Yet she rejoices in those human errors too. Her eggs are an appropriate comment on this, where the viewer is encouraged to hold one of them as they view the show; allowing them the chance to possess the piece and to be directly engaged with the repetition and tactility of all the works in front of them.
Anissa Mack (b. 1970, New Jersey, USA) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Mack completed her MFA at the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia in 1996. Previous solo exhibitions include Second, Laurel Gitlen, New York, 2011; and Anissa Mack: On Loan, Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, 2008. Selected group exhibitions include DNA: Strands of Abstraction, Loretta Howard Gallery, New York, 2013; Hang Up, Josh Lilley Gallery, London, 2012; Painting Expanded, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, 2011; and BigMinis, CAPC Musée DArt Contemporain de Bordeaux, France, 2011.