PARTICIPANT INC presents Narcissister, Studies for Participatory Sculptures, a solo exhibition of sculpture and collage. Known for working with the live body, Narcissister has created over two hundred collages that constitute research for unrealized (or unrealizable) sculptures and, central to the exhibition, a totemic sculpture. In the works on view, a multitude of orifices serve both to embrace and refuse historical representations of the feminine in art and pornography. The artist pays homage to porn performers, Martha Rosler’s photomontage series House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home, the early sculptures of Charles Ray, and Louise Bourgeois’ Totems, and cites references ranging from Kembra Pfahler’s Wall of Vagina to Pope.L’s Sweet Desire, among others. Amplifying and playing with the classical monolithic form with performers both real and artificial, the sculpture and collage works evoke objects of museum collections and historical archives.
Elements of collage, cut-up, and scavenging are part of Narcissister’s DIY process of designing and constructing costumes and props. These designs have migrated into photographic and sculptural collage works that grapple with hybridity and ambivalence of race, gender, and sexuality. As the artist has noted: “As many women in the art world are obliged to do, the women in my collages have found a way to insert themselves into the dominant art world narrative. You see the path they have cut to enter, the gooey glue like a bodily fluid that holds them in place. Now they are there, they now literally have a platform, however the struggle to arrive is present.”
With Narcissister, Studies for Participatory Sculptures, the artist casts multiple others in a collective, durational action, expanding upon a generative process of unmooring roles and identities, and, in doing so, shifting visual and kinesthetic experience of changing perspectives. Narcissister’s new work is as intrepid as it is humorous, challenging assumptions of feminism and the art world at every turn. This exhibition follows Narcissister’s short-form performances with PARTICIPANT INC (2013 and 2015), and an evening-length event for PERFORMA17 in which live works were interspersed with performances made for camera.