|L. Amelia Raley
Brian Kim Stefanson
Inappropriate Covers includes multi-media works by eleven established and emerging artists, chosen for the aesthetic tensions they generate through acts of appropriation, reconfiguration, and erasure. Works in the exhibition range from the refined to the outrageous. Jim Campbell's elegant sculptures muse on memory and loss: the artist's own heatbeat and breath set the frequency of layers of fog that appears on a glass, covering and uncovering photographs of his parents. At the other end of the specturm is Kelly Heaton's Live Pelt. Heaton refers to the cloak, which is made from sixty-four used Tickle Me Elmo dolls purchased on E-bay, as her "substitute lover." In addition to Campbell and Heaton, artists participating in the exhibition are Brian Dettmer, Kenneth Goldsmith, Christian Marclay, L. Amelia Raley, Ted Riederer, Brian Kim Stefans, Stephanie Syjuco, John Oswald, and Mark Wallinger.
Through various forms of "covering" and acts of "inappropriation" the works chosen for this exhibition seek to uncover layers of meaning that were previously hidden or obscured. Although appropriation techniques have a deep and variable history throughout 20th-century art, in contemporary culture the rampant use of sampling, remixing, and appropriation has become a general and widespread activity. Inappropriate Covers seeks to revitalize the discussion of appropriation, using the combination of the two words in the exhibition's title to further develop and enrich our understanding of appropriation practices — practices where the artist seizes preexisting cultural materials to use as source materials for the creation of his or her own artwork.
The works included in Inappropriate Covers reform and deform prior artworks, popular media texts, and everyday materials, often resulting in inappropriate transformations that challenge our traditional understanding of the original, or which mock social conventions. For example, John Oswald's Plunderphonics appropriates pop songs and classical music, transforming them into sophisticated compositions that mock the idea of "easy listening."
The idea of covering plays on the practice of reinterpretation derived from a musical context (i.e. rock and roll "covers'), but the exhibition also contains works that literally "cover" their sources, introducing interference between the original material and the viewer of the new, reconfigured artwork. For example, in Body Double Stephanie Syjuco blacks out everything within famous Hollywood Vietnam films except images of the natural landscape and foliage. Through this action she re-appropriates her birthplace, the Phillippines, where these blockbusters were actually filmed.
Humor, cultural critique, redemption and even beauty mingle together as these artists extract deeply meaningful residue from the materials that the past has delivered to us.