Stanya Kahn | A Cave Walks Into A Bar
February 18 – March 30
Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects
Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work by Stanya Kahn in galleries 3 and 4.
With four new videos and a suite of black and white drawings, Stanya Kahn’s second solo show at the gallery leaves the world of the living for a subterranean world of objects and elements. Hey Ho, Nobody’s Home, (9 min, 30 sec) takes place almost entirely underground and in small constructed sets with artificial lighting, original sound scores and mini weather systems. In Arms Are Overrated, (13 min, 40 sec) Kahn places two paper puppets in various found locations and gives them scripts and improvised dialogue in which they linger between an anthropomorphized sitcom state and an otherworldly Far Side. They’ve got big dreams, they’re inordinately vulnerable, they’re paper and nearly obsolete. Artist Jedediah Caesar contributes additional dialogue and voice. In Lookin’ Good, Feelin’ Good, (5 min, 5 sec), Kahn wears a giant foam penis out into the world. Happy Song for You, (5 min, 7 sec) was made with painter Llyn Foulkes, originally for the exhibition “Two Schools of Cool” at the Orange County Museum of Art. It was the first piece completed in this body of work and inspired new modes of making. Set to Foulkes original composition with Kahn’s sound design, the images in the piece developed organically over the course of a few months and reflect what was a uniquely reciprocal collaboration. Five one-minute line drawing animations suggest a digital bridge between the video works and the drawings, all of which are connected by a pathos-and-humor coupling that the artist has honed to perfection since her last exhibition at the gallery. Throughout the videos, Kahn’s intricate editing and sound design remain key to the reshaping and recasting the inanimate, and the story itself.
In the artist’s own words: “How can you hug if you don’t have arms? It’s every clam’s conundrum. Or maybe it’s not a problem at all. Maybe wanting is so spent, we’re past yearning. So says the sea anemone, stuck eternally to a rock and sighing with relief: “Well, at least I don’t have to worry about putting my foot in my mouth.”
Pairing the impossible with the intrepid, this new body of work would like to offer that maybe we’re beyond the question: “How’s it going?” That things have become so absurdly difficult that “uplifted” and “downtrodden” exchange places rapidly and what results is a steady, electric, dialectic stream of answers. If, in rhetorical terms, to answer is to act, then this is not a cynical show at all. Even if those answers are often wrong, snarky, or sad. In moments sentimental even. And that could be embarrassing except that it’s sincere, piano with reverb and all.”
Compressing action, image, and experience, Kahn continues to explore a joke’s poetic compaction. Her new work is driven by an economy of meaning: exhausted perhaps by the elusive means by which language might carve out new possibilities, she appropriates the bumper sticker ethos of saying a lot with a little, forging her ongoing relationship to humor, distress, and the elliptical power of the joke.
Stanya Kahn’s work was recently featured in “Two Schools of Cool” as well as in the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; at Future Gallery, Berlin with Keren Cytter and Shana Moulton; and in a solo show at Galleria Perdida/Recess, NY. In 2010 her video “It’s Cool, I’m Good” won the jury prize for short fiction at the Migrating Forms Festival in NY. In June 2012 she will have her first solo show in the UK at Cornerhouse, Manchester. Her work in collaboration with Harry Dodge was included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial; in “Code Share: 5 continents, 10 biennales, 20 artists”, CAC Vilnius, Lithuania; in the “Videonale 12”, Kunstalle Bonn, Bonn, Germany; in “Slightly Unbalanced” at the Harnnett Museum, Richmond, Virginia; in “Reflections on the Electric Mirror: New Feminist Video” at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art; in “Unusual Behavior,” Santa Barbara Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, in “California Video,” Getty Museum, Los Angeles; in “Laughing in a Foreign Language,” The Hayward, London; in “Between Two Deaths”, ZKM/Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany; in “Eden’s Edge”, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; in “Shared Women”, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA; in “Defamation of Character”, PS 1, Contemporary Art Center; at Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York, NY and in “Marking Time”, at the Getty Museum and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, among others.