21 June - 24 August 2012
|© Josh Faught|
It Takes a Lifetime to Get Exactly Where You Are, 2012
Handwoven sequin trim, handwoven hemp, cedar blocks, cotton, polyester, wool, cochineal dye (made from ground up bugs), straw hat with lace, toilet paper, paper towels, scrapbooking letters, Jacquard woven reproduction of a panel from the AIDS quilt, silk handkerchief, indigo, political pins, disaster blanket, gourd, gold leaf, plaster catst, cedar blocks, and nail polish
8 x 20 feet
21 June - 24 August 2012
Lisa Cooley is thrilled to announce Josh Faught’s second solo show at the gallery, Longtime Companion. Faught employs marginalized materials and techniques, such as weaving and other traditional crafts, to explore marginalized feelings – the intersection of identity, desire, loss, ornamentation, sexual politics, and domesticity. Faught’s signature sculptural forms – loose, irregular hemp weaves, sagging, draped fabric, loofah-like burrows, pockets, frayed knots and webs – appear here in a new body of work that oscillates between suggesting threats and protecting against malice.
Faught transforms various sources of text-based support networks into woven textiles, which adorn the artworks in this exhibition. Panels from the AIDS Quilt, the single largest piece of community folk art, are cheaply reproduced by mail-order manufacturers as a way to reconsider the context of its memorialization. PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) newsletters make several appearances, while woven chapter titles from Dungeon Emergencies and Supplies inform the viewer about possible dangerous situations that may arise. “Police at the Door” and “Hyperventilation” are just a few of the scenarios to guard against, in dungeons as well as in life. Calendar includes a selection of inspirational greeting cards with “toilet paper” topping the list of the “top ten things to be grateful for.”
A suggestion of transitions – whether seasonal or psychological – runs throughout the exhibition. Several of the works formally allude to calendars with colorfully woven horizontal or vertical bands to suggest the passing of time. These bands are woven using a technique called Summer and Winter, developed in Colonial America for coverlets on beds. The structure of the weave allowed complex designs to emerge in the cloth with the simplest of looms. Historically, these coverlets were reversible – color on one side and white on the other. In this way, the coverlets could provide warmth while remaining fashionably and seasonally appropriate all year.
Two custom-designed, red cedar sculptures anchor the exhibition. Delicate replicas of PFLAG newsletters are set into the face of each unit while potpourri pies, wax cupcakes, and collections of books line the closets’ shelves. These sculptures mirror each other, while suggesting contrasts of support and menace. Summer (Dona Z. Meilach) includes a replica of a summer newsletter as well as a collection of books by Dona Z. Meilach – a precursor to Martha Stewart who created complete collections of how-to books on crafts. Winter (Ann Rule) features a winter newsletter and a collection of true crime books by Ann Rule. Rule came to prominence while researching a book on the Ted Bundy murders. Bundy was unidentified as the killer at the time and Rule had unknowingly befriended him as a fellow employee at a suicide hotline, living amongst a killer. These books revel in the suburban panic of domestic life while telling a cautionary tale of normal people gone awry.
Much of Faught’s work hinges on teasing out conflicting impulses. Urgent political messages rub up against more flamboyant musings. Several works feature disaster relief blankets, stretched like canvases and adorned with political and novelty buttons. A button that reads "If you can't reach me it's because I'm screening my calls" easily resides next to one that reads “Division Destroys Dreams.” Materials incorporated into many of the works suggest various metaphors for protection from malice and anxiety. Red cedar and lavender oil protect the delicate fiber based works from infestation. A plaster cat guards one work, deterring prospective mice. Calendars order time, potpourri diffuses unwanted odors, and how-to books offer a guaranteed path to success. Cochineal, a natural red dye, suffuses the works in the exhibition, and extends the metaphors of infestation. To obtain the dyes, one must harvest cochineal insects from the cacti they live on, grind them up, then boil and strain the mixture. Cochineal also leads a double life as carmine, the most common red dye in makeup.
The exhibition’s title, Longtime Companion, is taken from the expression the New York Times once often used to delicately describe the surviving same-sex partner of someone who had died from AIDS. Faught’s appropriation of this somewhat awkward and dated expression imbues the works with humanity, while alluding to the enduring and complex political issues surrounding intimacy, language, and privacy. His poignant sense of humor is never far off though, as one of his buttons insists: “Destined to be an old broad with plenty to bitch about.”
Josh Faught lives and works in San Francisco, California. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the California College of Arts in Oakland and San Francisco. Recent exhibitions include Painting Expanded at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York, Material Occupation at the Albany University Art Museum, and a solo presentation at Western Bridge in Seattle. Faught won the prestigious Betty Bowen Award from the Seattle Art Museum in 2009, and subsequently had a solo exhibition there. His work is included in the permanent collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art and he is the recipient of a 2011 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant.