When the great heroes of yesteryear marched off to their conquests and adventures, there was generally somebody at hand to record the details, so the tale could later be spun into an oral history of more mythic proportions.
Indeed, the hero’s exploits, and what the chronicler took from them, are presumably at the base of the fundamentally human urge to move beyond reportage and transform the hero’s story into a song. Although we haven’t kept up the practice of singing about our heroes, this original meaning remains embedded in the form of its opposite principle – to be unsung. In keeping with this earlier definition, Unsung looks at the state of being unappreciated. Each of the participating artists considers the human condition from the perspective of the ordinary life and the non-hero. Some go still further, working specific references to music back into the equation.
DOUGLAS BOURGEOIS’ small paintings seem to spring from a vivid postadolescent fantasy life, in which half-forgotten gospel singers and faces from old high school yearbooks become invested with mythic significance.
In his works on paper and cardboard, ROY FERDINAND, JR. offers an unsparing account of life on the streets of New Orleans’ rougher neighborhoods.
JUDITH LINHARES’ epic renderings of an antediluvian paradise have one foot in fairy tales and the other in feminist revisionist history.
ELLEN HARVEY is well-known for her New York Beautification Project in the streets of New York, but less so for studio works like the Invisible Self-Portraits shown here.
CHRISTINA RAMBERG’s fetishistic details of female torsos and apparel have been important precursors to contemporary feminist imagery, while TED RIEDERER’s paintings of the post-punk music scene draw a stark contrast between anonymity and glory.
In JONAS DAHLBERG’s Invisible Cities video, we are given an airborne nighttime perspective of a small Scandinavian city during the summer solstice, when the streets are sunny but totally devoid of people.
ARAYA RASDJARMREARNSOOK presents Village Storytellers, a video made from her interviews with mentally ill Thai women.
JORGE MACCHI will show two new works: Streamline, a video collaboration with Edgardo Rudnitzky; and a new sculpture, Music Stands Still.
DAN CAMERON is Senior Curator at Large of the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and Curator of the 2006 Taipei Biennial