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Irena Jurek

An Interview with Eric Mistretta: When to Panic

by Irena Jurek on September 28, 2016
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Visiting Eric Mistretta’s current show, “Bad Doctor,” at Anna Kustera (on through October 2nd), feels a lot like walking into the mind of a mad pop culture meta-physician. He’s turned the gallery into a glowing ultramarine chamber complete with glowing violet crystals and a pentagram painted on the floor. At first glance, the show looks like it’s a celebration of New Age beliefs and all the accouterments that go along with the lifestyle.

A longer look at some of those accouterments creates a more macabre interpretation . “Healing” crystal book ends flank volumes of “When to Panic,” self help books. Seemingly pleasant, yet ominous paintings, give one the sense that all this magic isn’t intended to save the viewer from more malevolent forces at play.

I sat down with Mistretta to discuss superstition, human foibles, the saving graces of humor. We even looked at the importance of belief and the way we construct meaning in everyday life.

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Skin Game: An Interview with Michael Mahalchick

by Irena Jurek on April 27, 2016
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There may be nothing more distinctive than a Michael Mahalchick show. In the past, his exhibitions have included a mural made during a performance in which he affixed piece of bacon to the wall with their own fat, a stack of Playboy Magazines topped with a hypodermic needle, a gallery full of objects arranged as though they were simply the refuse in a used hotel room of a rock star.

For his fifth solo show at CANADA Gallery, Skin Game, Michael Mahalchick continues to find inspiration in sex, appropriated media, and the history of rock and roll to create a gallery full of darkly romantic pop culture shrines.

We sat down and discussed the significance and the meaning behind the ephemera, and discarded objects he chooses. We also discussed his performances, which have always played a vital role in his work; the last iteration will be taking place May 1 at the gallery

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No Justice: An Interview with Jennifer Catron and Paul Outlaw

by Irena Jurek on April 15, 2016
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Anyone who’s seen Jennifer Catron and Paul Outlaw’s work, has zero chance of forgetting it. In the past, their work has involved placing a dinner table and its diners on a hydraulic lift, live chickens, pig fountains, a crawfish food truck, a tour Chelsea tour bus that sold editioned knock offs of famous artworks, and a gallery-sized art-world themed Monopoly game board activated by actual players. That’s not even half of the work they’ve produced.

The point of all this, is to poke fun at contemporary American culture and question the belief systems that inform it. Their current show at Postmasters, “Behold! I teach you the Overman!”, uses their trademark high-energy approach to art making to great effect. It engulfs viewers in installation, video, painting, and performance that simultaneously criticize and celebrate the role of decadence in life and art. It includes a chair that lifts you upward into a ceiling mounted video viewing cube. Inside, a parade of morally ambiguous leaders and characters engage in heavenly glee while consuming mounds of food. In the middle of the gallery, a freestanding grove of trees cover an artificial pond with a functioning boat ride. The forest’s canopy consists of a multi-media video piece starring Catron and Outlaw. In it, an intergalactic sunbathing chair propels an orange-tanned woman towards the intense light of an overpowering tanning bed, alluding to either a nuclear doomsday, or spacial bliss.  

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This Week’s Must-See Art Events: Avoiding Anything Armory Edition

by Michael Anthony Farley and Rea McNamara on March 1, 2016
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Art-fair haters rejoice! The Armory Week Fairs are upon us, but there is art to see and events to attend that don’t require traveling through the halls of a convention center. Take the launch of Lorna Mills’ monthly GIF presentation on the electronic billboards of Times Square as part of Times Square Arts, or the opening of the Artist’s Institute’s new uptown home, which will kick off its six month season focused on the inimitable Hilton Als. Both take place outside of an art fair booth and in the real world!

Looking to escape the fairs this weekend? Flux Factory launches the Fung Wah Biennial, presenting the work of artists on the Chinatown bus routes. This Saturday, the destination is Boston, so if you’re looking for a post-Armory ride, this might be the ticket. (But act quick: as of writing, ten tickets are left.)

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Michelle Segre with Irena Jurek: On the Uncertain Impermanence of Driftloaf

by Irena Jurek on December 15, 2015
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Last month, Michelle Segre’s show Driftloaf closed at Derek Eller Gallery. The exhibition comprised brightly-painted loaves or slices of bread suspended on pediment-like found objects. They’re familiar but strange, and certainly pique one’s curiosity.

Irena Jurek sat down with Segre, and discussed the show.

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Rebecca Goyette With Irena Jurek: The Terrifying Experience of Ghost Bitch

by Irena Jurek on November 24, 2015
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Between 1692 and 1693, more than twenty people were executed in Massachusetts. They were the victims of a series of trials and persecutions against people accused of witchcraft. Most were women. All but one died of by hanging. During that time, Rebecca Nurse, a 71 year old grandmother known piousness and stature in the community was hung for witchcraft.

Years later, her great, great grandchild, Rebecca Goyette tells a new story, inspired by the events that killed her grandmother. I was lucky enough to be part of the live studio audience for the the filming of her new work “Ghost Bitch: Arise From the Gallows”, which imagines the life of a character by the same name doing historical reenactments by day and dominatrix work by night. She is a modern day witch who works hard to fulfill the expectations of thrill-seeking tourists—and art audiences.

The result was improvisational work of theatre and film that so thoroughly impressed and terrified me I reached out to Goyette to discuss the work. It premieres at the Satellite Art Show in a bandshell on Miami Beach next week, as part of her curatorial project “Extra Teats: A Screening of Bad Ass Puritan-Purging Digital Artwork”. The screening includes works by Katie Cercone, Kerry Downey, Dawn Frasch, Faith Holland, Narcissister, Kenya Robinson. We discuss gender dynamics and power struggles, Ghost Bitch, and the filming of that project and the most frightening art I have ever paid witness to.

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The Art F City Paddle8 Auction is Live!

by The AFC Staff on February 7, 2014
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Good news. The Art F City auction is live on Paddle8 and we’re employing every form of digital media to let people know! That means you’ve got through Monday, February 17th at NOON sharp to bid on all live items before the heading to Postmasters Gallery for the live auction with CK Swett. You have through Monday, February 17th at TEN PM to bid on silent lots.

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This Week’s Must-See Art Events: Let’s Get Real

by Corinna Kirsch and Whitney Kimball on January 13, 2014
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If the economy has given us one gift in the emerging art world, it’s a lot of activities involving sweatbands and opportunities for cheap dates. This week is no different.

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