The exhibition’s title plays on a slogan of France’s 1968 student protests, “Sous les pavés, la plage” – “under the cobblestones, there is the beach” – and cynically contends that when peeling back the carpet of society, one is disturbed to uncover another layer of the same. The exhibition dares the audience to reconsider their comfort with the conventions of culture, entertainment, and politics. The six artists represented in SOUS LA MOQUETTE/LA MOQUETTE each maintain an individual perspective, but when woven together, their distinct voices become a collective chorus expressing the quiet horror of complacency.
Ryan McNamara’s arresting video work, The Latest in Blood and Guts, shows an entertainer eviscerating himself on stage and is paired with McNamara’s thematic inverse, a large-scale collage from cut-outs of gallery visitors constructing their identities for a performance still. Photographs from Michael Max McLeod’s Adult Cinema and Casual Encounters series, depicting empty pornographic theaters and individuals devoutly living out their desires, document the outlets for staging private lives. Bradford Kessler’s striking wall decal, a life-sized portrait of the artist re-imagined as a video game protagonist, is both playful and iconoclastic, animating the concept of catharsis through violence. In Mikey Estes’ installation, faux flora camouflage themselves amongst natural greenery, to comment on blending in and standing out (with varying degrees of success). Anton Ginzburg’s altered busts of celebrated American presidents are upturned and precariously balanced, suggestive of an imminent collapse. Jake Dibeler’s sister (black/black), composed of twin folding chairs dressed with black wigs and anchoring black balloons, collides the morose with the hysterical to provoke the audience into a state of reaction.