Apr 9th 2010

Noelle Mason: Bad Boys

@ Thomas Robertello Gallery

939 West Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

Opening Friday, April 9th, from 5PM - 8PM

On view through Saturday, June 5th

A solo exhibition of work by Noelle Mason investigating and critiquing the idea of hysterical masculinity. Exploring extreme masculine drag and brutality, Mason depicts the distinctly irrational behaviors of men and boys, who in fear of acknowledging their own frailties, seek to expunge weakness through accessorizing and violence.

Included in the exhibition is Nothing much happened today (for Eric and Dyan), 2005–2009. This cross-stitched work combines a pixelated image from Columbine High School’s cafeteria surveillance camera taken during the April 20, 1999 massacre, with a process related to domesticity. The artist’s massive five-year endeavor captures the iconic image representing 1/30 of a second of the event. Viewed as a mourning cloth or evidence, the work acts as a gadfly reopening old wounds. Its process-driven, slow, calculated, conservative physicality is at extreme odds with the messy, disposable, video still made indelible by the media. Further exploring the Columbine shootings, Mason includes Love Letter (white flag), 2010; a series of 40 handkerchiefs embroidered with excerpts from Eric Harris’ journal.

Sonata, 2010 is derived from remediated video footage of beheadings performed by Al-Qaeda over the last decade. Intended to terrorize through the power of imagery, the videos themselves have been in a sense ‘beheaded’ and are stripped of visual content. Instead, they are reinterpreted as sheet music laser cut on leather vellum; a translation or transposition of video image into notation, craft object, and ultimately sound.

Fond (fingerbang), 2010, is a video shot at Dia Beacon, NY depicting the artist violating a Joseph Beuys sculpture in the Dia Foundation’s permanent collection. Mason’s performance of institutional transgression effeminizes Beuys’ felt stacks, and by association, Beuys himself. The video is viewed through a navel high ‘glory hole’ in the wall, forcing the viewer to assume a vulnerable position, doubly breaking the erectness of the body as well as the social erectness of high art.

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