Magenta Plains is jubilant to present A Detached Hand organized with independent curator and advisor, Nicole Will. The exhibition is an articulation of the “model of difference” put forth by the late art historian Linda Nochlin in her lecture from 1994, The Body in Pieces: The Fragment as a Metaphor of Modernity and includes work by fourteen artists who negotiate a discursive visual language of corporeal fragmentation and defy traditional representations of the figure.
The birth of modernity, ushered in by the French Revolution, sought to re-identify the semiotic relationship of part to whole through deliberate destruction of the past. With the emergence of the guillotine came an archetype of human dismemberment and a castration of power: sacrificial, ritualistic and psychosexual fetish bolstered the artistic mind, serving as a template for reinvention.
Reflecting upon the intellectual crisis of the eighteenth century where a utopian wholeness and heroic past of grandness was too ideologically consuming for artists, Nochlin constructs the paradigm of “the body in pieces” as an exemplary Revolutionary trope through a case study of depicted amputated, severed, and mutilated anatomy as well as cropped compositions seen throughout art history in the work of Géricault, Degas, Manet, Max Ernst, Louise Bourgeois, and more.
A Detached Hand examines the Nochlin’s paradigm and its larger implications: that modernity is marked by social, psychological, perhaps even metaphysical fragmentation—a shattering of connection. The selected artists in the exhibition negotiate such concepts. With George Brecht’s Two Exercises from 1961 in mind, the cumulative human parts represented in this exhibition can be considered both “other” and “object”—begetting new objects and others in aFrankensteinian operation within the context of the whole. The body is dismembered, split, and re-conjoined in the mind’s-eye. For some it becomes aphysical link to identity, for others, it offers a chance to explore the surreal.
Hans Bellmer (b. 1902, Katowice, Poland. Died 1975, Paris, France); Elaine Cameron Weir (b. 1985, Alberta, Canada. Lives and works in New York, New York); Cameron Clayborn (b. Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Lives and works in Chicago, Illinois); Nicolás Guagnini (b. 1966, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Lives and works in New York, New York); Dan Herschlein (b. 1989, Bayville, New York. Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York); Brook Hsu (b. 1987, Pullman, Washington. Lives and works in New York, New York); Caitlin Keogh (b. 1982, Anchorage, Alaska. Lives and works in New York, New York); Kiki Kogelnik (b. 1935, Bleiburg, Austria. Died 1997, Vienna, Austria.); Israel Lund (b. 1980, Bellow Falls, Vermont. Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York); Ebecho Muslimova (b. 1984, Dagestan, Russia. Lives and works in New York, New York); Narcissister (b. 1971, La Jolla, California. Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York); Bruce Nauman (b. 1941, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Lives and works in Galisteo, New Mexico); Christina Ramberg (b. 1946, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Died 1995, Chicago, Illinois); Penny Slinger (b. 1947, London, United Kingdom. Lives and works in Los Angeles, California).