Mario Ybarra Jr. will present a multi-media installation entitled The Black Squirrel Society for his first exhibition in New York at Lehmann Maupin’s 201 Chrystie Street gallery. In Ybarra Jr’s artistic practice, he consistently explores the space between what is the norm and taboo in American culture from a particularly Mexican-American perspective. Bordering on the absurd at times, he continues to explore the conflation of social spaces and interactions whether imagined or real.
Similar in organization to the Freemasonry or other secret social clubs, The Black Squirrel Society is a makeshift lodge for an order who’s principles, practices and institutions include black squirrels in all sectors of society passing normal rites and passages of everyday life. Included in the installation are commemorative banners of battles won or lost by black squirrels; music in praise of black squirrels; memorabilia including t-shirts, drawings and posters; and action figures based on their various occupations. Ybarra, Jr. has created a cosmos of black squirrels that co-exist among us and that will live on as The Black Squirrel Society gathers every few years in different locations around the country, gathering momentum with each assembly. Not dissimilar to the installation The Peacock Doesn’t See Its Own Ass/Let’s Twitch Again: Operation Bird Watching in London (2006) for which he did for the Serpentine Gallery in London, the artist created a bird club filled with stuffed birds, found objects, museum artifacts, and corporate designs based on an excavation of the local “birdlife” on the model of Marcel Broodthaers’s ersatz Mus ée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles (1968).