Gavin Brown's Enterprise at Passerby
436 West 15th Street, 212-206-7321
October 27 - November 23, 2006
Reception: Friday, October 27, 6 - 8 PM
UK-based artist Gee Vaucher surprises New York with a rare glimpse of the startling political images from her years as a member of the punk band CRASS, and introduces new portraits of children who might have seen too much. After entering the world of image making as an illustrator and member of EXIT, an avant-garde performance group, Gee and her peers formed the anarchist collective and seminal punk group CRASS. Gee created the band’s posters and record covers, made and showed films during their live performances, and gave form to the aesthetic for which the band is known. She also published the politically-minded art newspaper International Anthem (as Gee calls it, “a nihilist newspaper for the living”).
During the lifespan of CRASS (1977-1984) Vaucher helped not only to define the band’s visual appearance but also gave voice to a very hands-on, do-it-yourself punk ethic fueled by criticism of the West and the powers that be. Her images tell shocking stories of war and exploitation, and her style – raw stencil work, meticulously cut collage work, photo-realist gouache paintings – is still very much in circulation today. Her influence can be traced to all manner of present-day artists, from unknown punk bands around the world to the ever popular renegade artist “banksy” But this is just the visual element, the surface level, of her work. More important is the weight of her subject matter – always political, searing with the passion of anger and humanity, but always with a spot-on wit and sharpness. Much of her work from that time period is just as relevant now as it was then. She reminds us of what we are not being shown in the western media. Gee’s ability to strike at the nerve of your sensibilities – shows perfectly the horrifying realities of war, oppression, injustice, and classism. To see this show is to see the world through the eyes of one of the most uncompromisingly individualistic, stubbornly independent minds of the last 30 years. Gee Vaucher has always striven to convey her feelings about the heaviest issues we face as humans – and hasn’t let up yet. Her newer work is just as visceral and political as her early images – while infused with a subtle humanity. Her portraits capture the look of the child who has seen too much and the overlooked beauty of common farm animals.
Penny Rimbaud performs with saxophonist Louise Elliot at the gallery Wednesday 8th November at 8 pm