Parents’ Day features five new works by D-L Alvarez which center on themes found in the genre of slasher films. Beginning with the show’s title and the piece, Occasion to be Denounced (2007), Alvarez sets the tone of celebrating a special occasion. Made entirely of crepe paper, Occasion to be Denounced (2007) underlines the fragility of such situations. Celebration in the genre of slasher films is a common motif, implemented in the titles of films such as Happy Birthday to Me, Mother’s Day, and Silent Night Deadly Night. The later was controversial for depicting a killer in a Santa suit, which brings to light another common theme of the genre: that the killer’s identity, including often his or her gender, is almost always disguised.
The costumes that Alvarez provides in Something to Cry About (2007) might well belong to the Mom and Dad of Parents’ Day. They are cheery in appearance, but also completely concealing: each of the two uniforms having been sewn from several of children’s clothes.
In a series of drawings titled The Closet (2006-2007), Alvarez depicts a pivotal scene from John Carpenters’ Halloween, a 1978 movie that, with all of its sequels and imitations, would come to be one of the defining films of the slasher genre. In this scene, a masked figure attempts to kill a young woman played by Jamie Lee Curtis (the daughter of Psycho’s Janet Leigh), whose perceived safety of the closet is quickly shattered.
The sound work, Bird Call (2007), was recorded in a midnight woods, and the folk song that weaves in and out of the forest pays a nod to a film famous for not using a written musical score to provoke scares: Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 film, The Birds, which Alvarez credits in the show’s text based work, eye caress; a filmography (2007), as “the first film fright to stay with me.”
It is another Hitchcock film, his 1960 Psycho, which is considered the mother to the slasher genre. Psycho is based on the true story of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein, notorious for the grisly details of his crimes, which included sewing the skin of his victims into a “woman suit.” Gein believed that by wearing such a suit he would be disguised as his mother.
In all, Alvarez is less interested in the spectacle of crime as in the cultural history crime forges. A truly American genre, slasher films of the 70s and 80s connected to already existing cultural drifts. They reflect the violation of innocence exemplified by the transition that took place at the end of the sixties when paranoia replaced free love
D-L Alvarez lives and works in Berlin. Alvarez has exhibited widely throughout the United States, Europe, and South Africa. His work was included in the 2006 exhibition Drawing from the Modern 1975-2005 at the Museum of Modern Art. His work has been collected by numerous museums including the Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Weatherspoon Art Gallery. This will be his sixth solo show with the gallery.
north room: Jesse Bercowetz – New Sculpture