Opening Friday, September 5th, from 6PM - 9PM
On view through Saturday, October 11th
Threewalls is pleased to open its 2014/15 season with High Plains Drifter, an exhibition of new work by Chicago-based artist Carol Jackson. In the Project Room, Jon Geiger will present an accompanying exhibition titled Nothing That Gleams.
What is fated and what is free will? The narratives that comprise American identity are an amalgamation of scrambled symbols that have been repurposed into a collaged taxonomy. Culturally, the United States ascribes nearly equal significance to the mythic narrative of the pragmatic, self-made maverick, and the concept of selflessly serving a Christian God.
Heroism is deeply entwined with a belief in manifest destiny, often giving way to a kind of hubris that perpetually imagines mankind not as benevolent stewards, but as dominating masters. The problems inherent in making and living in community—caring for others, sacrificing for the common good, serving as custodians of the earth—are often dogged by an ethos of independence that demands that an American pursue his or her own path. Pioneers and overseers, supervisors and CEOs: these models complicate and undercut the American pursuit of happiness.
Carol Jackson’s work has long addressed the concept of American hubris and manifest destiny. Through her material choices, such as tooled leather and visual references to turn-of-the-century trophies and sheet music, Jackson explores narratives of the American West through the lens of real estate speculation, epic poetry, jingoism, and expansionism.
For High Plains Drifter, Jackson looks to Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, and examines America’s fascination with and dependence on the automobile. In a twisted assemblage of papier-måché, Jackson will build a car wreck emerging from the gallery wall. Part crash-site and part marquee, the piece houses embedded hieroglyphic messages that only Satan can read.
Jackson cites Derrida’s concept of hauntology, an idea that suggests that the present exists only with respect to the past and that as time passes, society will gradually orient itself more towards the rustic or “old-timey.” This old-timey state exists as a specter, a suspended, unresolved state that is neither being nor non-being, but a haunting that contaminates the present.
Jon Geiger readily takes up these ghosts in his work, mining American folk history, cowboy films, and European Classicism for the symbols and objects—from boots to bowling balls—that are continually incorporated into American history, muddying and fictionalizing its narrative. His sculptural installations rearrange displaced fragments into tableaux that feel familiar but lack a straightforward story. Resembling props for a spaghetti Western or the miscellany of a roadside museum, Geiger uses these objects as a language for challenging the places they occupy in the viewer’s imagination while examining their relationship to narratives of achievement, masculine archetypes, and the western spirit. As ambiguous arrangements, they are intentionally open for interpretation, with the premise in place that meaning is never fixed and there is always another side, another reading available.
For Nothing That Gleams, Geiger will install a new tableau in the Project Room. He also furnishes Jackson’s exhibition with point-of-interest seating, so the gallery visitor can enjoy the view of the wreckage.
Jon Geiger received his MFA in ceramics from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2014. Upon exiting graduate school, Geiger’s work was inducted into the permanent collections of the Cranbrook Art Museum. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, mostly recently in a solo show at Good Weather Gallery (North Little Rock, Arkansas). Geiger lives and works in Detroit, Michigan.
Carol Jackson received her MFA in 1992 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she now teaches. Her recent exhibitions include the 2014 Whitney Biennial, curated by Anthony Elms (New York); Monique Meloche Gallery (Chicago); Kunsthaus Speckstrasse (Hamburg, Germany); the Chicago Cultural Center; Van Abbe Museum (Eindhoven, Netherlands); and The Smart Museum of Art (Chicago). She has been featured in the New York Times, Interview Magazine, Frieze Magazine, and Newcity. Jackson’s work is included in the collections of The Smart Museum of Art, (Chicago) and the Werner Hirsch Drawing Collection, (Los Angeles), among others.