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Alix Lambert ‘Safe Return Doubtful’


Anna Kustera Gallery
520 West 21st Street, 212-989-0082
March 10 - April 28, 2012
Reception: Saturday, March 10, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Anna Kustera Gallery is pleased to present this survey of the artist’s singularly rich, conceptual projects created over the past two decades. As a writer, filmmaker and visual artist, Lambert’s creative output is as varied as it is provocative. The exhibition begins chronologically with her 1993 The Marriage Project in which Lambert married (and methodically divorced) three men and one woman in succession over just a six-month period. The resulting documentation – this determinate residual of married lives – includes photographs of her and her spouses, the marriage certificate themselves, Recipes for Love and the divorce papers. A visual testament, as well as concrete proof, of an artistic and sociological expedition into the mainstream.

Critic Tim Griffin has aptly written that the artist’s work can be considered “a series of infiltrations.” Indeed, Lambert has gained access to a wide variety of what most would deem subcultures, from the domain of Russian prison tattooing to the boxing world, often becoming a part of each excursion. If an actor stands inside a character in order to better portray that person, Lambert performs a more fertile deception: she briefly but completely enters the targeted group then, along with the audience, stands back to take in and analyze the (now past) experience.

Her engagements with subcultures often take entertaining forms. After studying how to play drums, the artist created a fictional-but-actual all-girl, mock-rock band dubbed Platipussy. In addition to producing promotional videos and fan merchandise, the band recorded an actual album. For the Male Pattern Baldness series (1994), the artist inhabited the body of a middle-aged male basketball coach and by focusing on the overt signs of aging, memorialized his plight.

The artist has continued these intellectually and physically rigorous immersions into still more rarefied subcultures. In researching her much-lauded documentary on the culture of tattooing in Russian prisons, The Mark of Cain (1999-2000), Lambert purchased a tattooing kit and learned how to tattoo documenting the results. The Mark of Cain proved a turning point for the artist in other ways as well. This infiltration and deconstruction of the vanishing practice and language of Russian prison tattooing revealed the brutality of the art form’s origins. Lambert’s subsequent projects became centered on crime itself, as in her 2008 Crime series, a series exposing a criminal world through portraits of law enforcement, perpetrators and victims, and this year’s Courtroom Drawings, lithographic prints from the artist’s drawings of legal proceedings.

Additional projects from Lambert’s journeys are represented in the gallery’s survey. Each demonstrates her intensity and bravery as cultural stand-in. Lambert is a contemporary explorer of the staged realities of others.
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