“2 Freaky 2 Friday”
Curated by Amanda Brinkman, Cameron Shaw, and Charlie Tatum
August 5 - September 18, 2016
Artists: Hannah Black, Sara Clugage, Raque Ford, Faith Holland, E. Jane, Jennifer Mills, Tameka Norris, and Brice Peterson
Pelican Bomb Gallery X
1612 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard
New Orleans, LA 70113
Pelican Bomb presents “2 Freaky 2 Friday,” a group exhibition centered around contemporary conceptions of female celebrity. The exhibition examines the ways women’s public images are created, presented, and consumed. It is particularly interested in the shifts linked to the digital proliferation and manipulation of images in the late 1990s, when the Internet went from a little-used resource to a household utility. Artists include Hannah Black, Sara Clugage, Raque Ford, Faith Holland, E. Jane, Jennifer Mills, Tameka Norris, and Brice Peterson.
The eight artists in “2 Freaky 2 Friday” explore a spectrum of feelings, especially from women and femme-identifying people, associated with the celebrity other: adoration, obsession, pathos, sadism, and self-identification. Many draw on and adapt recognizable images of real celebrities to new, personalized ends, positing fanaticism as a sincere and spiritual act. Sara Clugage’s large-scale jacquard tapestries reimagine pre-breakdown Britney Spears in the canon of Catholic saints. In a series of mixed-media sculptures constructed from television stills, gold paint, and plastic foliage, Brice Peterson reclaims Jessica Fletcher—the Murder, She Wrote writer-sleuth played by Angela Lansbury—as a queer icon.
Other works on view point to our collective, and often contradictory, ideas about the bodies of famous women as public entities. Faith Holland’s series Chelsea Manning Fan Art, 2013, was created shortly after Manning, a transwoman, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for sharing information classified by the U.S. government. Holland’s animated GIFs imagine the Internet as a distinctly feminine space and play with the social constructions of Manning as alternately a hero and a criminal; a physical being and a digital fragment. Viewers can create their own IRL fan art at a letter-writing station in the gallery. In her video My Bodies, 2014, Hannah Black pairs snippets of songs performed by black R&B and hip-hop artists—Aaliyah, Ciara, and Jennifer Hudson, to name a few—with the smug faces of white business executives, asking us to consider the nexus of power in our physical selves. And Jennifer Mills’ watercolor paintings transform gossip-magazine headlines of Jessica Simpson and others into swaths of pink, yellow, and blue, a process of abstraction that suggests a dissolution of identity through public consumption.
Several of the artists in “2 Freaky 2 Friday” manipulate alternative universes or created realities, using the fantasy of celebrity to make space for the transformed self. A series of works in Plexiglas by Raque Ford riffs on teen fan letters and lyrics from popular songs. A zine produced by Ford, free for takeaway, contains a tale of the meeting of two characters who simultaneously are and are not Beyoncé and Rihanna. A site-specific installation by E. Jane serves as a glowing portal for the gallerygoer to enter the world of one of the artist’s Black Diva collages, an assemblage of celebrity faces and digital abstractions. And Tameka Norris’ alter-ego, Meka Jean, pushes the limits of self-identification, blending Norris’ personal experiences in both the contemporary art world and the hip-hop music industry. Her persona straddles both realms, not quite fitting into either. Her Ivy League Ratchet EP is available through a listening station, accompanied by hand-painted lyrics and a limited-edition poster that lines the gallery entryway.
The exhibition’s title references Freaky Friday, the 1976 American comedy where a daughter and mother switch bodies and experience each other’s lives firsthand. The film, itself based on a novel by Mary Rodgers, was remade for television in 1995 and remade again in 2003 with teen starlet Lindsay Lohan. This most recent version was produced just before the apex of Lohan’s critical and commercial success, which began to sharply decline only a few years later as partying and legal troubles transformed her into unrelenting tabloid fodder.
“2 Freaky 2 Friday” continues Pelican Bomb’s mission to bring new and meaningful experiences that connect local audiences with global conversations around contemporary art. Pelican Bomb provides a platform for diverse voices, for thinking critically, creatively, and sometimes playfully about the work of visual artists within the distinct cultural context of New Orleans. Throughout the run of the exhibition, Pelican Bomb will publish a series of features, interviews, personal essays, and digital artist projects on the Art Review, all exploring ideas of female celebrity.
Pelican Bomb Gallery X is free and open to the public Wednesday - Sunday, 12 - 5 pm. Contact Charlie Tatum at 504.252.0136 or firstname.lastname@example.org with all press inquiries.
Special thanks are due to Prospect New Orleans for their in-kind support of this exhibition.
Image: A still from Faith Holland’s Chelsea Manning Fan Art, 2013. Animated GIF. Courtesy the artist and Transfer Gallery, Brooklyn.
An exhibition at Pelican Bomb Gallery X explores the ways images of female celebrity are created, presented, and consumed.
Pelican Bomb opens a new exhibition featuring eight up-and-coming artists who address the concept of female celebrity.