Exhibitions

Upsodown

Running from January 14, 2013 to February 22, 2013 in the Main Gallery

A Curatorial Opportunity Program exhibition curated by AJ Liberto and Kate True.

Including the work of: Seth Alverson, Nick Cave, Robert Colescott, Marcus Kenney, Eli Kessler, AJ Liberto, Clifford Owens, Joyce Pensato, Tara Sellios, Summer Wheat

Review by art critic Cate McQuaid, which appeared in the Jan. 23, 2013 edition of the Boston Globe.

Interview with co-curators published in the Massachusetts Cultural Council's blog ArtSake

Curator's Statement

Upsodown celebrates the transformative power of the carnival. People have always sought respite from the hierarchies of caste, race, and gender. Social convention, mass media, urban planning, and religious and political power structures reinforce restrictions on our behavior and attitudes. The carnival turns these restrictions inside out and upside down, encouraging rebirth and reinvention. Constricting forces are temporarily thrown over in a time of raucous celebration.

In the Middle English of Chaucer’s Canterbury tales, up so doun is a phrase used by the parson to describe the results of a sensuality gone wild. Up so doun, one of the oldest idioms of the English language, has equally ancient parallels in many languages, such as sottosopra in Italian. The cultural relevance of this period of topsy-turvy transformation is palpable. The word carnival derives from the phrase carne vale, a farewell to the flesh. Culturally we yearn for this time out of time, to shed our burdens, to remind us to rejoice in the carnality of life.

Carnival uses direct language in place of euphemism, the vernacular in place of the pompous. We can mock without fear, laugh at ourselves and others. We re-imagine ourselves as kings and queens, and bring the lofty down to earth. Ritual, stripped of belief, stands revealed as words and props, while the mundane and the mad are made sacred. The unscripted carnival is timeless and transformative, embracing change and liberation. From Medieval Europe to the cultural chaos of the Americas, up through the swamps of Louisiana, the tenebrous spirit of carnival blossoms and extends through contemporary art.

The artists of Upsodown employ the forces of playful mayhem, dark humor, grotesque exaggeration, and bright compassion to subvert the dynamics of power. Subversion, however, is only the beginning of the carnival rites. Fed by laughter, a new order and beauty, unimaginable in previous schemes, emerges and flourishes. Upsodown refers to that fleeting place where, by external situation or sheer will, we are boundless, timeless, and selfless.

Robert Colescott

Summer Wheat

AJ Liberto

Marcus Kenney

Eli Kessler

Seth Alverson

Nick Cave. Photo by James Prinz Photography. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Tara Sellios

Clifford Owens

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Installation Shot by Peter Vanderwarker

Boston Globe review by art critic Cate McQuaid

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