Whitey On The Moon
By way of commemorating the 40th anniversary of the moon landing in some sideways fashion, Whitey On the Moon will showcase work documenting various aspects and impressions of said satellite, made by artists who have been there. Field recordings essentially, made by intrepid explorers of dimensions extending both outward and inward.
How did they get there? What were they doing for this long? We don’t know. Perhaps, to avoid unspeakable earthbound horrors, they escaped. Perhaps, to serve diabolical experimental impulses, they were secretly rendered. No matter: here for the first time, they render back.
The exhibition, naturally, is replete with images and impressions of abandoned and vandalized sites, languid and mysterious surfaces that hint at unspecified landscapes, weird creatures -- neither organic nor inorganic -- borne of botched genetic experiments, odd reclamations of junk invaded by patterns that hover between absurd and abstract, vast cosmos built from scraps of domesticity, shards of confessional aesthetics and all manner of flimflam simultaneously nostalgic and futuristic.
Whitey On The Moon takes its title from a Gil Scott-Heron song from 1970. Written in the wake of America’s triumphant lunar escapade, the song points up the contradictory social conditions that allowed for glaring economic inequities to persist “on the ground” while massive resources and energies were simultaneously being spent toward a program based as much on chest thumping cold war jingoism as on genuine scientific experiment.
Contemporary perceptions of the moon landing on the other hand, tend to be marked by a different kind of disjunction: one that acknowledges that lunar expeditions (and space travel in general) stopped being, at some point, about the future and instead became about the past. The kind of exploratory optimism that perceived space travel to always encompass some notion of a fantastic future appears hopelessly recherché in the current historical moment.
Appropriately, the work in the show addresses this incongruity from a variety of positions and materials. Clearly, none of it is either directly about the moon or about GS-H’s proto-rap broadside. They carry nonetheless, some essence of our relationship to both these elements. Meditations on memory, each object in Whitey On the Moon is evidence of an artist parsing with uncommon keenness and sensitivity, their relationship to materials of the past, real or perceived, collective or personal, recorded or imaginary.
James J. Williams III
Kanishka Raja, curator