Microscope Gallery is very pleased to present Eileen Maxson’s first solo exhibition in New York “I was really gonna be something by the age of twenty-three” featuring new video, installation and photo-based works posing the 1994 film, or more specifically, the artist’s VHS copy of the film “Reality Bites” as a point of origin for social, economic, and technological concerns of today.
Maxson – who won the first Arthouse Texas Prize at the age of 25 for her work parodying news reports and pop culture – re-renders the film as objects and images titled, like that of the exhibition, with famous quotes from the “Gen X” film that represent the movie’s central themes. Most significant to Maxson are the mediation and commodification of identity, the possibility of artistic authenticity in a commercialized world, and power in relationships, especially labor, across ages, sexes, and borders.
“Evian Is Naive Spelled Backwards”, a double-sided 3 by 160 inch register receipt, features the images the artist received from workers she hired on the anonymous outsourced labor site mechanicalturk.com to take and send her their self-portraits. The work includes false images obviously lifted from the internet, sent in response to her first “naïve” attempt to find out who these workers were well as real photos from her subsequent requests requiring those responding to take two pictures of themselves holding homemade banners with the words “NAIVE” and “EVIAN” respectively.
Similarly, for the 33-minute video “I Know it When I See It (Define Irony)”, Maxson recreates the iconic “Reality Bites” scene in which the main character played by Winona Ryder is stumped by the final question of a job interview asked as she’s entering the elevator: “Define irony”. The result is a non-traditional documentary of forty-four women who responded to her ad to “answer a single question on camera”. As in the movie, they only have limited time to do so – the time it takes for the door to close.
Other works find Maxson transposing branding and advertising techniques and imagery into philosophical questions and experiences. For example, the interactive video work 1-804-410-KNOW re-imagines the opening sequence of the film as a closed-captioned, television commercial for a pay-per-call phone line. An image of Earth, recalling the Universal Pictures’ logo, rotates on screen while anxious text scrolls forward. The video ends with uncertainty “what are we going to do now?” If dialed the caller receives a text from the artist that echos the original script.
Eileen Maxson is an artist working at the confluence of video, performance and installation. Her works have been exhibited at Los Angeles Contemporary (LACMA), Los Angeles, CA; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK; FotoFest, Houston, TX; Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico; Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel; Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, Germany; Art in General, New York, NY; Anthology Film Archives, New York, NY; Museum of Moving Image, Queens, NY; and Light Industry, Brooklyn, NY among others.
Maxson has been awarded residencies at International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), Brooklyn, NY (2013-2014), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), New York (2013), Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany (2012-2013), and De Ateliers, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2008-2010). Grants include Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Artadia: The Fund for Art & Dialogue, New York; The Dallas Museum of Art; and Centrum Beeldende Kunst, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Maxson was the first recipient of the Arthouse Texas Prize. She currently lives and works in Ridgewood, Queens, NY.
I was really gonna be something by the age of twenty-three opens on Friday July 10th, 6-9pm and runs through August 16th, 2015. Gallery hours: Thursday to Monday, 1 to 6pm.