“Exquisite Corpse” Exhibition Explores What It Means To Be Human In the 21 Century

Alfred Steiner

Alfred Steiner

Michael Shaw, Dan Attoe, Austin Eddie

Michael Shaw, Dan Attoe, Austin Eddie

Exquisite Corpse Book

Tom Sanford

Tom Sanford

MASS Gallery in Austin, Texas recently opened its newest exhibition, Exquisite Corpse. The group curated by Beautiful/Deay’s founder Amir H. Fallah features a myriad of artists, with many that we’ve featured in Beautiful/Decay publications and on our site: Dan Attoe, Jay Davis, Bill Donovan, Austin Eddy, Amir H. Fallah, Chie Fueki, Joshua Hagler, Adam D. Miller, Kymia Nawabi, Christopher Pate, Max Presniell, Colette Robbins, Maja Ruznic, Tom Sanford, Alfred Steiner, Michael Shaw, and Dani Tull. In their own way, each artist explores the body and what it means to be human in the modern world.

Exquisite Corpse refers to the collaborative game whose origins are rooted among the Dadist writers as a poetic exercise and the Surrealist later turned into a drawing game. You might’ve played it before; when each person does their part well, it creates an alluring, sometimes grotesque body that was completely unexpected.

This exhibition brings together artists working in both Los Angeles and NYC. As MASS Gallery poetically describes:

A central problem of 21st century life is that the old, psychologically fortifying myths are fading.  Philosophers and scientists have described us as wet robots and biological algorithms, which is perhaps an intentionally shocking way to describe humanity, but these descriptions also seems to get close to a dangerous truth that contains a kernel of abject horror.  It is the artist’s job to create psychologically coherent images which look forward.  It is now a matter of viewpoint whether, when it is all said and done, you are a dead body or an Exquisite Corpse.

In addition to the show, the gallery also produced a full-color catalog that showcases all of the work and an essay by Bill Donovan. The limited-edition, 102 page publication features a beautiful spot UV with fluorescent cover. If you can’t make it to Austin for the show (it’s up until October 25), then the inexpensive-yet-high-quality catalog is totally worth it.

More work by the featured artists as well as sample spreads from the publication after the jump.

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Cynthia Consentino’s Surreal Ceramics Mix And Match Heads, Torsos And Legs

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You won’t find cadavers or skeletal remains in ceramic artist Cynthia Consentino’s “Exquisite Corpse Series.” The project takes its name from the Parisian Surrealist parlor game, in which each player wrote a word or drew an image on a sheet of paper, folded the paper to conceal it, and passed it to the next player for his or her contribution. The results were wildly incongruous poems and images, gathered ideas from many minds.

In Consentino’s series, hers is the only mind at work, and the results are strangely charming and more than a little disturbing. The hybrid figures combine animal with human and the occasion household object. They play with the idea of gender stereotypes, something that began to interest the artist after reading a study where five-year-olds were asked to name a representational animal.

“The boys identified with animals that were predatory, and the girls with animals that were cute and cuddly. One girl even answered with a flower. I thought that there would also be girls who wanted to be tigers, but then I remembered loving playing a flower in a school play at that age. (Source)”

To loosen these gender constructs, she made varied heads, torsos, and legs then assembled them in ceramic sculptures of various configurations, some almost life-size. With their softly rounded limbs and pastel and pretty color palette they can seem almost sweet, but the fierce wolves heads and deadly weapons belie their innocence.

“My style seems a bit nostalgic, something from the fifties, or from folk art. It derives much of its character from children’s things: fairy tale, cartoons, dolls, games, as well as the domestic world. The work often incorporates imagery that is loaded with symbolism and history, such as flowers, animals and the ceramic figurine. It is very much about the familiar, things of our dreams, our stories, our childhood. (Source)”

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EVENT ALERT: Shelf-Life 2 This Saturday at UCS!

This Saturday Beautiful/Decay will be leading an exciting zine workshop at USC for Shelf-Life 2: A Big Day for Small Press, a one-of-a-kind event featuring an influential group of independent publishers, artists, writers, and designers whose voices and images have questioned and pushed the boundaries of popular culture. Celebrating the DIY spirit that Beautiful/Decay champions yours truly will be working with attendants to create a communal zine celebrating the art of the Exquisite Corpse. Attendants will create their own exquisite corpse along with short fictional texts that will be bound into a spectacular zine of awesome proportions!

If that’s not enough Gary Panter, Chip Kidd, and Byron Coley will also be giving various workshops along the way with lots of other talented DIY creatives from around the world.

Did I also mention that this awesome event is completely FREE? Yes good people it’s totally free so you have no excuses for not showing up, giving me a high-five, and having a great ol’ time. See you all at USC from 11am-5pm this saturday! Click Here for more info.

 

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