“I heard her. She was omnipresent, like a shadow drifting over my landscape. My landscape. My body. Our body. Evolution from one microorganism. That we all came from. That we never heard in the beginning.”
Reckless Abandon: Performance is Friday, December 15th from 5-7 pm. Todd Ryan White, David McMaster, Tim Reed, Ekalos Reed and Niomi Fawn will join Thais Mather to present a series of performance vignettes among the artworks of Reckless Abandon. Learn more about the event here, and make sure to RSVP on Facebook.
Thais Mather’s Reckless Abandon is not an exhibition that you would call “on view,” in a passive sense. In fact, it’s a show that views youinmanycases. It unfolds and evolves, pulling viewers and other artists into its orbit in compelling ways. For example, gallery visitors are free to interact with the ceramic masks in Mather’s installation200,000. During the opening reception, there were audible gasps in the crowd as people reached across the platform and plucked faces from the vast field of sculptures. If a visitor decided to acquire a mask, they were allowed to take it with them that evening, leaving a gap in the grid. In this sense, the arrangement of artworks in Reckless Abandon has changed every day since it debuted late last month.
The exhibition will transform yet again on Friday, December 15, when Mather unites feminist and activist artists for a series of performances among the artworks. Todd Ryan White, David Mcmaster, Tim Reed, Ekalos Reed and Niomi Fawn will each add their artistic voices to the show. “I feel like the concept of the male genius artist presenting his solo magnum opus is a Greenbergian farce,” Mather explains. “Everything you create is influenced by other artists, by your mentors, by your relationships, by the music and literature you adore.”
This new paradigm could also redefine the role of the storytellers who have reflected on Reckless Abandon since its opening. Perhaps they too should be considered collaborators, directing channels of the show’s conceptual river in fresh directions. In her review of Reckless Abandon for Pasatiempo, Iris McLister analyzed the show’s sweeping scale and individualized impact:
Feminist and universal, political and primitive, ancient and hyper-contemporary. Alchemical. These are just a handful of words that aptly describe artist Thais Mather’s exhibition Reckless Abandon, now on view at Form & Concept. Though the entirety of the gallery’s cavernous downstairs is filled with her work, the art’s intentionality never seems compromised by its quantity. During a recent tour of the show, Mather said, “I want to make art that will last. It feels really important to me to have the discipline to make things that endure.”
Comprising sculpture, drawing, video art, printmaking, and more, Reckless Abandon could feel sprawling, but instead it’s immersive and intimate. Describing a central theme for the show, Mather wrote in her artist statement, “I’m really contemplating humanity: how culture began, where we are now, and where that might evolve.”
McLister also touched on the show’s highly collaborative ethos:
Mather is transparent about relying on the knowledge and help of others in making this show a reality. Friends and peers, including local artists Sandra Wang, Ron Pokrasso, and Chris Collins, were instrumental in helping Mather learn and execute new techniques. This must partially inform why she doesn’t like what she has called the “farce of the solo show.” For her, the experience of art — whether making it or viewing it — is most rewarding when it’s collaborative in nature.
I’m trying really hard… to not give too much information, because I really think that what viewers perceive in the work is a really valuable asset to the work itself. The one thing that I will say about it is that I deeply researched feminism, and that’s where my background comes from in terms of the theoretical aspect of what I’m interested in.
I find social change important in work, trying to change and challenge my audience and myself… We are learning, we are failing, and sometimes we get it right. Mostly I hope we can think about the rest of the world—not just humanity, but the planet. 200,000 years is a short time within a four-billion-year-old process. I just keep looking and asking, and knowing very little in return. It feels good, so I just keep doing it.
On a similar note, Eliza Lutz of Matron Records talked about the show’s ability to inspire across mediums and disciplines in the record label’s December newsletter:
Though Matron Records is clearly an entity with music front and center, we are constantly exploring the many ties between various disciplines and perspectives, ranging in everything from sound and design to performance art and printmaking to storytelling and feminism. Reckless Abandon, the multi-discipline exhibition by Mather featuring hundreds of artworks, navigates the space between these ideas, dismantling traditional & patriarchal art narratives to create a show that re-imagines human history and what it might become.
Given the current political climate, with a recent resurgence of the #MeToo campaign setting the tone for a radical cultural shift in many male-dominated fields, Reckless Abandon could not come at a better time. The immense body of work and interconnected series of performances and events tackle the full weight of the past and present while still offering a magic and radical vision for the future. “I think people are getting these catastrophic feelings, that this is the end,” says Thais Mather. “I don’t believe in that. I think this is a beginning.”
“I think people are getting these catastrophic feelings, that this is the end,” says Thais Mather. “I don’t believe in that. I think this is a beginning.” The feminist artist’s new exhibition, Reckless Abandon, comes at a time of cultural, political and environmental upheaval. It’s an ideal moment to examine human history from a revolutionary stance—and present urgent questions that can reveal a new path forward. Through a monumental art installation and an interconnected series of performances and events, Mather will challenge viewers to abandon patriarchal structures in favor of a transcendent vision for humanity. Reckless Abandon opens at form & concept on Friday, November 24, 2017 from 5-7 pm, and runs through February 10, 2018.
Jared Weiss has forgotten much of his subject matter. Or rather, the scenes that he paints are often buried somewhere deep in his unconscious. Reviving suppressed memories can be a dangerous game, but the Santa Fe artist has some heavy hitters on his side: Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan and Slavoj Žižek.
Weiss draws inspiration from the famous line of psychoanalysts in his new solo exhibition at form & concept, He’s Either Dead or It Was His Birthday. Opening Friday, June 30, the show conjures a strange sense of déjà vu. Weiss’s figurative images—which resemble warped photographs from a massive theater production—are sure to lodge in the back of your mind. The exhibition opens Friday, June 30, 5-7 pm and runs through August 12, 2017. Read our interview with Weiss below, and make sure to RSVP for the reception.
You lived in Santa Fe previously, and then you left for a few years. What were you up to before returning in 2015?
I was living in San Francisco for 2 years, and going to grad school. It’s kind of scary, just how forward-thinking the tech industry is, and how with that comes not really caring about anything old. Painting being one of those things.
Young tech people aren’t collecting paintings, they’re collecting yachts.
That’s totallytrue. I really felt unsupported, unfulfilled. I mean, school was great in a lot of ways. The community in San Francisco is just such a weird, alien place. I had to get the hell out.
How did graduate school affect your art?
It was a great experience. It was an awful experience. The biggest thing that I came away with was that I wasn’t making the work that I’d wanted to make for a very long time. I just didn’t know how. They just squeeze you and put you in corners all the time, and you have to make fight-or-flight decisions.
Really, I was afraid for the longest time. I didn’t think that my life would be interesting. Before, I was painting from photographs of people I never knew, and would never know. I found that very interesting because it’s something you can never get to, so you’re projecting.
I just slowly came to the realization that, in fact, I can paint my life. It will be interesting.
How did you feel coming back? Do you think it’s changed here?
Definitely. There are a lot more young people here. There’s a lot more art events happening.
Tell us about where you grew up.
I’m from the Midwest. I’m also kinda done with the Midwest. Terrified of the Midwest.
And yet you return to it quite often in your work.
Yeah, it’s kind of a study on the terrifying nature of it. Very subtle.
Are you still figuring out what’s going to be in the show?
I have a pretty definite idea. The work has gotten very indebted to psychoanalysis, particularly the work of Freud, Lacan, and Žižek.
The key thread through all of it is this idea of a screen memory, which appears in an old Freudian essay. He talks about any kind of experience that threatens to overwhelm the psyche, particularly trauma or a new experience that’s too overwhelming to integrate. You can repress that as a defense mechanism, but it’s still there, buried somewhere in your psyche. In order to integrate it, you collage other memories on top of it that are similar.
A real memory is replaced by something brighter and shinier.
Yes, you have this kind of veneer on top that’s a fiction. It’s not a true experience, but it becomes more real somehow. In my work, the surface of the painting becomes this screen.
Are you using your own memories as subject matter?
Yes. For example, I grew up on this lumber yard, and I go back to this space. I’m using it as kind of a stage where I can cast people I know now as characters.
I like this idea of people seeing a painting and feeling like they’ve seen it before, but they really haven’t.
What inspires the titles of your paintings?
Mainly, I pick titles to confuse the experience. They’re like red herrings in a way. They point away from this thing, in a way that makes it palatable and safe. It gives things a semblance of friendliness.
The people in your paintings often look familiar, but their features are just fuzzy enough that they also seem like strangers.
That’s definitely intended. I want it to be obstructed to the point where you feel like there’s a similarity. There’s an entry point through yourself where you can project the people you know onto the figures. The Anywhere, America quality of the space and the potential knowability of the people is very intentional.
How do you choose your palette?
In Freud’s essay about screen memories, he talks about this memory he has. All he can remember is these incredibly yellow sunflowers. He tries to dig into all these associations with people that he knew and decisions that he made in his life, which are hidden underneath the memory of the sunflower.
The yellow of a sunflower, this hallucinatory, really amped-up yellow, is kind of what inspired the palette. You exaggerate in order to be able to remember things.
Are your paintings entirely rooted in the past?
As much as I speak about memory, the work is very much about reconstructing my life now. Pointing to this place that I’m from, but making it so it’s never in the past. It’s always this “now” moment. Painting has so many similarities with life. Good painting is always alive.
Join us for the opening reception of Jared Weiss: He’s Either Dead Or It Was His Birthday on Friday, June 30, 5-7 pm. The show opens concurrently with another painting exhibition, Rebecca Rutstein: Fault Lines. Click here to read our blog preview of Rutstein’s show.
form & concept hosts a new performance piece by local art group Victory Grrrls on Saturday, February 11 at 3:00 pm. The performance takes place the day after form & concept’s WISC Fellowship Presentation on Judy Chicago by Chad Alligood. Playing on feminist themes that Chicago has explored throughout her career, local artists Niomi Fawn, Thais Mather and Lucy Madeline will illuminate the continued vitality of the powerful social movement that was bolstered by Chicago’s artworks and activism. The gallery will accept a sliding scale donation of $5-$10 in support of the artists.
“This is war, and we’re strong, and we’re here,” Lucy Madeline told Honey Harris on KBAC Radio this morning. “We’re going to fight this, even if the odds feel like they’re against us.” Madeline appeared with our director, Frank Rose, to promote the debut performance of the Victory Grrrls collective. The interdisciplinary group, comprising Madeline, Niomi Fawn and Thais Mather, will take part in a weekend of feminist action at form & concept.
On Friday, February 10, legendary feminist artist Judy Chicago will appear at a special presentation on her artwork by Chad Alligood, curator of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. All available seats are reserved for this free event, but you can tune in to our Facebook Live broadcast at 5:00 pm MST. The following afternoon, Victory Grrrls will occupy form & concept’s atrium for three powerful performance art pieces. Here’s Emily Van Cleve’s take on Saturday’s event from Santa Fe Arts Journal:
The upcoming visit of feminist artist and art educator Judy Chicago to form & concept has inspired Niomi Fawn, Thais Mather and Lucy Madeline, a.k.a. “Victory Grrrls,” to present their first performance piece at the gallery.
“It felt like we’d finally found our tribe,” says Mather about last year’s founding of Victory Grrrls, whose name was inspired by a World War II campaign poster and the 1990’s underground feminist punk rock movement Riot grrrl. “This is the prime time to be doing what we know is our calling: to be feminist activists.”
Read the rest of the article for more information on Niomi, Thais and Lucy’s performances, and make sure to mark your calendar for the event on Saturday, February 11 at 3:00 pm. Click here to learn more about the Victory Grrrls performance, and hereto learn more about the Judy Chicago presentation.