In America today there are many Arthur Bremers waiting for a clean shot (cover of An Assassin’s Diary by Arthur Bremer)
waiting for a clean shot questions the relationship between violence and the desire for celebrity—and the ways in which a “clean shot” insinuates these are tainted American goods. The exhibition deploys various types of technical and contextual manipulations on the part of both artists, providing different spins and introducing remote influences that perhaps lie at the intersection of these particularly American realities.
Taking its title from a hallmark of assassination literature, the exhibition references Arthur Bremer’s status as a prime example of “manipulation from within” (meaning, his exploitation of publicity, news, and information) to craft a political assassination attempt that was, in fact, motivated by a desire to be famous. Tracing a trajectory that begins with Bremer’s displacement of his target (from then President Richard Nixon to presidential candidate George Wallace), Block and Khoshbin interlace a myriad of political and popular culture associations that, however well-documented, are further complicated by framing within the context of their at times stark, yet multi-layered practices of appropriation.
While Bremer’s An Assassin’s Diary served as inspiration for Travis Bickle’s character in Taxi Driver, which then spawned John Hinckley Jr’s obsession with Jody Foster, which led to his assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, the inclusion of a news image of Andy Warhol shortly after being shot by Valerie Solanas links these events in the ever-widening fault line between violence and fame. Also a crime motivated by a desire for recognition, Solanas’ target in Warhol (her second choice after failing to locate publisher Maurice Girodias), was subsequently drowned out in the press due to the assassination of Robert Kennedy three days later. Block and Khoshbin, through individual and collective utterances, insinuate the multiple displacements of reality that are made transparent through aggressive forms of content-driven appropriation.
Block’s individual works reflect a sustained interest in the extremities of individualism in American society and their connection to larger humanist ideals. There is a strong focus on the human side of the great social experiment and how aspects of social Darwinism push people to their limits. His large-scale, commercially-printed mural photographs center on iconic manifestations of competition and power, such as American Script #2, which features excerpts from David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, as well as other photographic works that draw connections between various real, fictional, and misled assassination attempts.
Also on view will be Fast, Faster, Fastest (American Attrition), a recently completed video that observes a few individuals’ desperate grasp of freedom against the state, as they run it down to its most basic elements in their cars, motorcycles, and on foot. The video was made by collecting and then de-editing (removing all slow motion, replays, etc.) police chase footage, which is then paired with a soundtrack of selected live concert recordings by Sonic Youth.
Khoshbin will create two large-scale, site-specific stencil paintings—one of which will run the length of the gallery façade. As part of an ongoing series, these works are derived from the artist’s re-workings of appropriated archetypal magazine articles (that posit themselves, for example, as authentic biographies) to reveal that scripted realities are often framed as unique truths. These works further amplify the reality TV aspect of the exhibition’s title, as his absent characters strive for their shot at power. His works for “waiting for a clean shot” center on themes of inherent American artifice, as filtered through pop music, celebrity, and the media. In addition to text-based paintings, Khoshbin will include new photographic works, derived from found source material, that posit constructed reactions to such forms of institutionalized power.