“That poet is the mighty unconscious stream that flows through every human being. It’s no accomplishment of yours that this stream — which plays no favorites — happened to pick you as its violin string.” – Milan Kundera, Life is Elsewhere
“Identity must be (we are) simultaneously fixed and emergent.” – Jessica Hyatt
CHICAGO: Jessica Hyatt’s solo exhibition, Singulate, is a show in two parts. First, we see the artist engaged with making, re-making, and un-making the individual identity of “Jessica Hyatt,” utilizing drawings, vessels, videos, and photography, to mimic and play with forms that show us how we understand ourselves. In the second part of the show, happening April 4 – 10,, we view an exhibition of paintings about Conquer The Magic, a quarter horse whose very name implores us towards an ideological construction of our world. Within this panoply display, Hyatt begins a discussion as to what a thing is, why it has relevance, how it becomes and whether or not it can be truly unique.
With a machine that individually pops kernels of popcorn with the artists’ initials on them, the exhibition opens up an investigation of what it means for the artist to reimagine identity as a “thing” that can be learned, mimicked, and programmed. This experimentation is carried into “Signature,” drawings in which the Hyatt writes her name repetitively, ambidextrously, and bowls containing 3D printed brain scans of the space in Hyatt’s brain activated during these writings. Also included are two paintings, each made by someone named Jessica Hyatt. The first of which the artist purchased online, the second a mediated image produced by the artist as homage to the process of the first. The two paintings stand as testaments to what Jessica Hyatt’s can make, when they have the gumption. Interspersed though it all are the works of “Zeno’s Paradox; Thank God for Infinity,” where the Facebook profile picture of everyone named Jessica Hyatt is reduced to the smallest resolution possible, a single pixel, printed and reprinted via an Epson printer, a Canon printer, and a laser printer and arranged in configurations that allow the iterations of color to relate to each other.
The second part, a show-within-a-show, is comprised of paintings exploring the figure of Conquer the Magic. He is a quarter horse bred in upstate New York, purchased by Jessica Hyatt, a woman the artist has never met. The paintings struggle to contain a conceptual form within a two-dimensional field; mirroring how Conquer the Magic himself is a metaphor for belief and at the same time a living, breathing being in the world. Hyatt writes, “He is a guide to places that promise to elevate us, through our belief, past our existential wandering. He does not belong to me, but I believe in him.”