Revealing a collective anxiety caused by increasingly conservative US foreign and economic policies — from the Cold War to the rise of neo-liberal politicians — and the fraught landscape of the culture wars in the wake of the AIDS crisis and identity politics, these works reflect a historical moment of deep cultural and political uncertainty. As artists today confront a new assault on political and social stability, the works of Blake, Diamond, Halley and Morris offer examples of how modes of protest can be located in an aesthetic and materialist practice.
Nayland Blake’s Joe Dallesandro as Augustin (1991-1994) and The Tabletop Production of Philosophy in the Bedroom (1991-93) reinterpret Marquis de Sade’s Philosophy in the Bedroom as a critique of identity politics.Robert Morris’s MOMORIA (For Alan Buchsbaum, dead March 21, 1986, from Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia) (1986) is a drawing on lead panel that memorializes the life of New York architect and luxury loft pioneer, Alan Buschsbaum, who passed away that year from the AIDS related respiratory disease. Jessica Diamond’s billboard sized wall painting
No Money Down, (1986/2016) exposes the real estate market’s deceptive mortgage practices. And Peter Halley’s painting Yellow Cell with Conduit (1982) confronts hegemonic social systems by visualizing a network of hard-edged lines and textural surfaces. Within the context of this exhibition these works are reevaluated, not based on their aesthetic likeness to contemporary works, but based on their efficacy in addressing the uncertainty of a time period. The visual language and formal methods employed by Blake, Diamond, Halley and Morris continue to proliferate through the political discourse of contemporary art today.
In July 2014 Andrew J. Greene curated Bad Influence, an exhibition of seminal works by Gretchen Bender, Ashley Bickerton, Wim Delvoye and Jonathan Lasker at Michael Thibault in Los Angeles. In March 2015 James Michael Shaeffer co-organized Debris at James Fuentes featuring works by Haim Steinbeck and David Wojnarowicz alongside Darja Bajagić, Lizzi Bougatsos, Renaud Jerez and Nevine Mahmoud. Greene and Shaeffer’s collaboration in Bad Faith marks a continuation of these projects.