Like an Iron Glove Cast in Velvet
Organized by Jonah Porter
Cudelice Brazelton | Thomas Gamble | Santiago Leyba | Jen Shear
February 16 – March 25, 2018
Opening Reception February 16, 6-9pm
On a Greek vase from the 5th century BC, Hercules is depicted slaying Medusa’s grandson, the three-bodied giant Geryon and returning with the spoils of his land, his coveted herd of red oxen.
This ancient depiction of the “heroic” pillager reads like a template for how at the height of the Cold War—in its efforts to undermine Chile’s socialist Popular Unity government’s control of copper and telephone industries—the United States aided the Chilean far right and armed forces’ bloody counterrevolution against the democratically elected socialist Salvador Allende, eventually leading to the installment of Pinochet’s brutal and authoritarian regime.
As part of its cultural offensive, the United States exported the world of Walt Disney (a “rapacious strip-miner” in the “goldmine of legend and myth”-Gilbert Seldes) deploying Donald Duck and his entourage as a covert vessel of anti-Marxist ideology. Under the smokescreen of a supposed American innocence, Donald Duck and the rest of the Disney cohort sold the image of innocence that was amenable to imperial American interests, an image of American exceptionalism that omitted, “dirty, realistic business tricks, social differences, and political ideas or race.” Defended as “innocent fun,” the magician’s sleight of hand concealed the iron fist hidden beneath the mouse’s glove.
In a 2007 online survey titled “Music in Mind,” a Finnish research group set out to determine the prevalence of a phenomenon colloquially known as “earworms,” that familiar sensation of jingles or fragments of songs that involuntarily echo in your mind. These musical splinters burrow their way deep into the subconscious, resurfacing when exposed to related sounds or imagery. In much the same way, these images and myths are meant to lodge themselves out of sight, laying dormant yet intimately familiar until they are excavated at the behest of motivated parties, summoned to serve as vessels for their political ideology.
What tools do we have at our disposal to dislodge these types of images from the recurrent flows and would-be puppeteers that use them to perpetuate racist, patriarchal or nationalist ideals? Is it possible to dislocate them from their entrenchment and embed them with new narrative potential?
Jonah Porter (b.1992) is Interstate Project’s 2018 Curatorial Fellow. He is an artist and curator based in New York. His work has been exhibited at Material Art Fair (CDMX), American Medium (BK), and Littman and White Galleries (PDX). He holds a BFA from the Pacific Northwest College of Art.
Cudelice Brazelton (b.1991) lives and works in Frankfurt Germany. Recent exhibitions include: Bounty, Jeffrey Stark, NY, Edge Up, MAW Gallery, NY.
Thomas J. Gamble (b. 1982) lives and works in Erie, PA. Recent exhibitions include: Anytime Dept., OH, S1, PDX, Tokyo Midtown Towers, TYO, as well as an ongoing political comic on humorandtheabject.com.
Santiago Leyba (b. 1991) is an artist and musician living and working in NY. Recent exhibitions include; Slug Fromant, Muscle Beach, PDX, Cupid’s Clearasil, PDX, Speed Freaks at the Symphony, LA.
Jen Shear (b. 1987) lives and works in CA. Recent exhibitions include; Studies, Low Rence, San Francisco, CA, Chocolate Tree Frog, Hayes Valley Art Works, San Francisco, CA.