LIFE AND LIMB
Curated by David Humphrey
June 3 – July 30, 2005
The world is lousy with threats and dangers! It's amazing that we aren't paralyzed with dread. We're good, though, at telling stories that both assuage and kindle our fears. Life and Limb is a story about those stories. Narrative figurative art has flourished throughout history, from prehistoric cave paintings to digital images beamed into space. This exhibition will trace an eccentric itinerary through various regions of modern and contemporary art. Prints, drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptures and videos will survey various matters of psychological urgency through depictions of figures doing things with and to each other.
Narrative can be purveyed by any media in an astonishing variety of genre. Like brain function, narrative is deep. We don't understand anything without connecting cause to effect, past to present and future. A story uses memory and imagination to organize sense data into something coherent. Because narrative artworks can only represent a fragment, or part of a continuum, the viewer must imagine the before and after based on what's presented.
Life and Limb focuses on intersubjectivity, on what people do and feel between each other. Acts of resistance, surrender, conflict, love, sex, longing and phobia drive narrative operations in general as well as the works in this show. Some artists picture a sanctuary from these conditions while others drive straight into the darkness; some adopt a comic stance while others get serious.
Do we choose to believe the words of the off-frame speaker in Kerry James Marshall's print who asserts, "Everything will be alright. I just know it will"?
David Humphrey is an artist and critic living and working in New York. He has curated several exhibitions, including the most recent "When I Think About You I Touch Myself", New York Academy of Art, 2004.