Opening Reception: Thursday, September 12, 6-8pm
September 12 - October 12, 2013
Georgia Scherman Projects is pleased to announce A Bestiary. This exhibition will be Fraser Stables’ third solo show with the gallery.
A Bestiary is a continuation of Stables’ playful and imaginative investigation of the relationship between the staged and the documentary. On view are a group of video projections showing animal tattoos on the bodies of five different amateur boxers or mixed martial arts fighters.
Scattered through the gallery at torso height, individual small-scale videos are projected onto constructed gold leaf screens mounted on scaffold-like structures. The sounds of punching, feet shuffling, and breathing fill the gallery. Framed as a contemporary 21st century bestiary, Stables presents us with a series of tightly cropped images of a dragon, a tiger, a lion, a lizard and a humming bird.
Digitally scanned from 16mm film, each frame is magnified and cropped to show only the animal: the frames are rotated, and animated to stabilize the animal and to counter the movement of the fighter’s body. The visual presence of the fighters is predominantly excluded and rendered secondary to the animal imagery. The accompanying audio, however, presents more complete traces of the human body, of action, and the environment—through the layered sounds of the gym.
The medieval bestiary depicted real and imagined beings accompanied by moral and religious allegories. Stables’ Bestiary—a carefully calibrated installation with its gold screens and collection of animals as totems, aspirational images and markers of identity—brings both traditional and contemporary references into play. We find allusions to medieval folio illumination; to a King’s crown; a gold medal; an MMA fighting cage…
The videos ride a line between whimsy and suppressed violence, embodiment and disembodiment, and may be considered broadly in terms of an engagement with competition, identity, masculinity, myth, and contemporary and historic iconographies.
A related selection of the artist’s recent photographs—an accumulation of images over multiple photo projects—is on display in the back gallery.
This exhibition is accompanied by three essays by the following: Gavin Morrison, Ninette Rothmüeller, and Brett Davidson. A catalogue is in production.
Fraser Stables is a Scottish artist, currently based in Northampton, Massachusetts, USA, where he is Associate Chair and Associate Professor of Art at Smith College. He received a BA from Edinburgh College of Art, an MFA from University of Guelph, was an artist in residence at the Core Program (Houston), and also co-founded Atopia Projects, a curatorial and publishing organization of which he is co-director. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries in Canada, the US, Japan, and Europe.