ASHES/ASHES is pleased to present its end-of-year exhibition, Sous la Moquette / la Moquette, which will be on view from December 15th, 2014 – January 30th, 2015. The exhibition brings together works from six artists: Jake Dibeler, Mikey Estes, Anton Ginzburg, Bradford Kessler, Michael Max McLeod, and Ryan McNamara. Their pieces coalesce to explore how contemporary artists subvert aesthetic conventions through the tension between overt appearances and their hidden realities, suburban contentment and undercurrents of violence – often tweaking and twisting norms without actually overturning them.
The exhibition's title plays on a slogan of France's 1968 student protests, “Sous les pavés, la plage” – “under the cobblestones, there is the beach” – and cynically contends that when peeling back the carpet of society, one is disturbed to uncover another layer of the same. The exhibition dares the audience to reconsider their comfort with the conventions of culture, entertainment, and politics. The six artists represented in the exhibition each maintain an individual perspective, but when woven together, their distinct voices become a collective chorus expressing the quiet horror of complacency.
Ryan McNamara's video work, The Latest in Blood and Guts, shows an entertainer eviscerating himself on stage and is paired with McNamara’s thematic inverse, a large-scale collage from cut-outs of gallery visitors constructing their identities for a performance still. Photographs from Michael Max McLeod's Adult Cinema and Casual Encounters series, depicting empty pornographic theaters and individuals devoutly living out their desires, document the outlets for staging private lives. Bradford Kessler's mural sized wall decal, a life-sized portrait of the artist re-imagined as a video game protagonist, is both playful and iconoclastic, animating the concept of catharsis through violence. In Mikey Estes's installation, faux flora camouflage themselves amongst natural greenery, to comment on blending in and standing out (with varying degrees of success). Anton Ginzburg's altered busts of celebrated American presidents are upturned and precariously balanced, suggestive of an imminent collapse. Jake Dibeler's sister (black/black), composed of twin folding chairs dressed with black wigs and anchoring black balloons, collides the morose with the hysterical to provoke the audience into a state of reaction.