Campaign 12 January–25 February 2012

with: Nida Abidi, Derrick Adams, Kathe Burkhart, Katie Cercone, Deville Cohen, Georganne Deen, Jen Denike, Glen Fogel, Kate Gilmore, K8 Hardy, Kati Heck, Adam Helms, Lisa Kirk, Jill Magid, Aleksandra Mir, Shana Moulton, Laurel Nakadate, Ylva Ogland, Clifford Owens, Fay Ray, Kenya (Robinson), Mika Rottenberg, Hrafnhildur Arnardottir aka Shoplifter, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Hank Willis Thomas, Elif Uras, Amy Wilson

C24 Gallery is pleased to present CAMPAIGN, a group exhibition curated by Amy Smith-Stewart. The exhibition places the popular depiction of the female body in a torrent of unrestrained expression from 27 international artists. Smith-Stewart states: “We are a culture obsessed with image making. The rapidly growing and absolutely powerful rise of new media embrace the celebrity lifestyle of “making it.” Who we are and what we are have become reflections of popular thinking.”

Incorporating an array of media, CAMPAIGN goes under the surface of digitally manipulated imagery of the homogenized female in order to understand how this has become a repository for confused and misplaced notions of status, power, dominance and beauty. By showing how women’s bodies are marketed, CAMPAIGN poses questions such as: What perpetuates this hegemonic depiction of women and how do we reveal what is really underneath the super-perfect veneer?

While appropriating imagery from mainstream culture and repurposing fashionable tropes, CAMPAIGN creates alternative meanings that reveal hidden truths—exploring the stereotypes of femininity to uncover contemporary self-reflective practices. The artists show how technological advances enable the manipulation of a visual vernacular. This fuels a fixation with transformation that complicates ongoing struggles with personal identity.

About Amy Smith-Stewart
Amy Smith-Stewart is an independent curator based in New York. She is the founder of the nomadic gallery, Smith-Stewart. She was Curator at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center/The Museum of Modern Art, New York from January 2002-December 2005 where she was also one of six curators of Greater New York 2005. Presently, she is on faculty at the School of Visual Arts, MFA Fine Arts Department and the Sotheby’s Institute, New York, MA Contemporary Art program.

Performances by Kenya (Robinson), Hrafnhildur Arnardottir aka Shoplifter, Shana Moulton, and Katie Cercone and The Push Pops will take place during the opening reception.

For more information about other performances during the exhibition, check our website for the schedule.

Upcoming exhibition highlights:
Kaleidoscope: Rob Voerman, Grazia Toderi, Shannon Finley
March 10 - April 21, 2012
Irfan Önürmen, May 3rd - June 9, 201

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Artforum Critics' Pick

New York “Campaign” C24 GALLERY 514 West 24th Street January 12–February 25 Jill Magid, From a Distance You Don't Look Anything like a Friend, 2011, letterpress, neon, dimensions variable. Installation view. In the neon pink zine-catalogue produced for this group show, curator Amy Smith-Stewart describes a heightened cultural hostility to women’s bodies fostered by contemporary mass media that traffic in “unattainable avatars” of femininity. Celebrity culture, reality television, and social networking are her particular culprits, and with “Campaign” she rallies against their imagemaking monopoly. But if the artists don’t present an alternative propaganda front, as the exhibition’s tongue-in-cheek title suggests they might, their disunited, often humorous challenges to “our prevailing depictions of women” still add up to an exciting chaos of dissent. Beyond the works’ common strategies (largely appropriation and collage) and recurring themes (fashion, porn, tabloid stars, and the nude), they reveal other surprising threads of camaraderie. Kathe Burkhart’s Liz Taylor paintings are a perverse homage to misogynist projection. In Beaver: From the Liz Taylor Series (publicity shot) (all works cited, 2011), a deck of strip-poker playing cards silhouette the flatly painted Hollywood icon, and a shaggy length of fake fur, affixed as Taylor’s stole, underscores the obscenity of the red text that bisects the canvas like a protest sign: BEAVER. Burkhart’s painting shares a corner with a like-mindedly antivirtuosic, but quieter, piece by Amy Wilson. Reminiscent of a strange school project, Fashion for Co-Joined Twins is an expository text about the confluence of fashion and fascism beginning with the Nazi occupation of Paris, penciled on a series of brown kraft paper pages and illustrated with embroidered figures clothed in surreal designs for the conjoined. These works shine as stylistic oddities even among this very diverse gathering of work. Jill Magid’s From a Distance You Don’t Look Anything like a Friend also sticks out—as a nonfigurative installation piece (a passage of appropriated text is impressed into the gallery’s drywall alongside an inverted neon arc), but also as a more oblique contribution to Smith-Stewart’s activist aims regarding “this world of interchangeable, digitally manipulated homogenous girls.” Magid takes her text from Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s influential 2009 book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. Online controversies surrounding law enforcement protocol, combat-based video games, and post-traumatic stress disorder populate the Internet rabbit hole of further research on Grossman’s ideas about desensitization and conditioned killing—perhaps an appropriate, if disturbing, maze to find oneself in when considering this show’s ultimate concern with the exposure and disruption of dehumanization in our particular moment of new media immersion. — Johanna Fateman