September 24 – November 19, 2023
Exhibition Opening: Sunday, September 24, 3–6PM
Judy Fiskin’s pandemic-era project The Way We Live Now escorts viewers through a succession of spaces simultaneously over-decorated and oddly vacant as a means of interrogating mutated notions of public and private, not to mention the capacities for desire which define them. Each domestic interior depicted has been sampled by the artist from the strategically manipulated visuals of real estate websites that have fully reflected a marketplace shaken by the turbulence of the times. In this suite of works, Fiskin deadpans a slice-of-life moral fable concerned with both the eccentricities by which personal space becomes personalized and the inevitable aches and pains of you-can’t-take-it-with-you degrees of loss.
The Way We Live Now has been developed out of digital images sourced from the Internet, appropriated and then altered in ways that draw attention to the augmentation already embedded. Deeply treacherous, complicated relationships between image and viewer are uneasily indicated in these works through more or less evident layers of distortion—in the cosmetic staging of the spaces in anticipation of being documented; in the overlit, wide-angle, supposed spaciousness of the resulting portraits; and in Fiskin’s studio where sly alterations, edits, and reconstructions edge the image’s operations toward critically scaled alienation and emptiness. Rapt with difficult reminders of isolation, social distances, and anxious uncertainty, these interior shots remark on an encroaching otherworldliness—even nightmarishness—to which we’ve been urged to acclimate. In an accelerationist period disoriented by collisions between airborne plague and the continuous subliminal messaging of buy-and-sell advertising, the elegiac quality of these overstuffed yet empty rooms take to task the psychological climate maintained by a media haze of FOMO, influencers, tastemakers, and faltering if not altogether derailed American dreams.
These new works proceed from more than fifty years of Judy Fiskin’s diligent efforts. Her photographs, videos, and related projects give form to a cultural clash ongoing, that of the more unmanageable and incompatible features of power and beauty and of their shadow forms—the threat of the loss of either or both. Across decades, Fiskin has leveraged the impulse built into photographic mechanisms toward the objective of capture against one of civilization’s most fundamental conceptions of control: private property. A disquieting tête-à-tête yawns open into implications of aesthetics, judgment, desire, economics, and stirring sensitivities toward the spirit of place. Fiskin’s use of the image is peppered with reservations toward the mythos of veracity it maintains in our social realms. The consistently affronting candor with which she organizes the functions of representation lays bare the material trappings that outfit a widening gap between basic survival and whatever dressed up decadence that describes the uneven resources of the here and now. Under the auspices of late capitalism, similar distances are inserted in the distribution of wealth between classes, between the adjudicators of taste and the relative disempowerments of the consumer, the wage earner, the home buyer, the will-never-be-a-home-buyer, and a vortex of extorted positions mapped across the power-beauty conflict aforementioned. Throughout Fiskin’s work, these horrific subtexts are tempered with provocatively mordant affectations of resignation and a wry humor that veers toward absurdism.
Accompanying the presentation of Fiskin’s recent photographic prints, RUSCHWOMAN is honored to share a screening of several pivotal video works that have been made over the past thirty years. Death and décor, the art historical and the familial, biting criticism and psychopoetic essaying are all brought under the sway of Fiskin’s attenuated structuralism and blithe montage editing.
The circumspection evidenced by Judy Fiskin’s oeuvre pits ultra concise syntax and structure against a sweeping cultural history inflected with greed, futile resistance to mortality, and tendencies toward domination endemic to the human project. From the vantage of a cool, West Coast, conceptualist sensibility Fiskin considers the consequences of a dragon’s hoard of history when underlying violences of time immemorial that would give way to capitalism as it is known today were but twinkles in a patriarch’s eye. By unassuming, indirect yet pointedly effective means, Fiskin’s photographic images and video passages ask for attention and accountability to be brought to the property laws, land parcels, colonial conquests, nationalisms, classes, castes, industries, profit shares, the means of production, burbs, and suburbs that have been erected as trophies to the persistence of uneven power relations.
 Joan Didion. “Many Mansions.” The White Album.
 Marianne Faithfull. “The Old House.” Horses and High Heels. NAIVE, 2011.
 Vanessa Place. La Medusa.
Image; Judy Fiskin. untitled, from the series “The Way We Live Now”, 2020-2021
Inkjet print, 12 1/4 x 17 3/4 in.
Edition of 6