Vivienne Griffin: She Said

22 Feb 2015 – 22 Mar 2015


New York
New York, United States


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Griffin's second solo show for Bureau comprises a suite of new ink drawings, carved and embellished stone works, a set of plinths in steel and marble, and an evanescent sound track. Her earlier drawings featured striking portraits of movie starlets and evocatively ambivalent phrases. Her new drawings are similarly bold, depicting standard objects from industrial design: a sink faucet, a coffee table, an office chair rendered in confident strokes of India ink. These drawings, like the portraits and catch phrases, invite an interchangeability suggesting a sterile and cold distance to her subject while also revealing a clearly fetishistic attention.

Griffin often disturbs a sombre seriousness with humorous, affected moves. A text work with an iridescent wash exclaims, "Peace and Love Motherfuckers", a tongue in cheek jab at the political slogans and conceptual practices of the 1960s. Small, semi-translucent works of alabaster catch the light and shine, but Griffin has disturbed their natural clarity by painting facets of the conscientiously cut stones. Inserting a painted highlight of day-glow pink they produce a "realer than real" experience of light hitting a natural object.

Around the space the crime of ornament is played out as staid depictions of modernist chairs and tables line the walls and bear witness. Dark grey-green soapstone blocks evoke the figuration of the smiley face. Perched on pedestals their bored eyelets are strung with cheap curb chain ornamentation, pierced and violated by adornments of junk gold. These absurdly embellished stones exist on the line between art and style, portraiture and decoration. Meanwhile the ideal gold bracelet, depicted on paper, remains safely encased, hanging above.

Griffin's lengthy, meandering backing track to the exhibition features deep, low register rumbles and other minimal drones. Intermittent female voices in breathtaking harmonies take the mic with lovelorn lyrics from "How Could I Be Such A Fool," sung in anachronistic polyphony. The translation of Zappa's blues into sublime choral soprano recalls the transposition of Sarah Kane's devastating words into desensitized, vocoder-speak in Griffin's first exhibition. Griffin's sound, like the installation itself, combines impressionistic, abstract notes of color and tone, with assertive phrasing of emotional content that rests somewhere between expression and sarcasm.

Exhibiting artists

Vivienne Griffin


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