Brian Jungen, Rebecca Belmore, Myfanwy MacLeod, Kevin Schmidt, Alex Morrison, Sam Durant, Ron Terada, Geoffrey Farmer, Jin-me Yoon
May 15–June 20, 2009

In this moment of major socio-political and economic shifts globally, Loaded presents tendencies within a group of artists' work that speak to the social and political. The exhibition marks a particular moment in history while presenting practices that transcend the specificity of time through a consistent probing of the complexities and contradictions of 21st century culture. Attending to trajectories in art history through various mediums, the artists explore the conditions of the world through questions of power, accountability, democracy, history, and activism.

Pointedly, the business suit appears as a key symbol throughout the exhibition, as a stand in for power and wealth and the current failure of the cultural logic of late capitalism. Brian Jungen’s parachute, which is constructed from men’s dress shirts and perpetually filled with air, alludes to a life saving device, supporting one’s fall, but also suggests artificial inflation or a hot air balloon. Rebecca Belmore weighs down the notion of the power suit, creating a trench-like barricade of bags filled with sand, while Myfanwy MacLeod’s grid of drawings entitled Do You Believe?, derived from depictions of the Second World War, are accompanied by texts from life insurance manuals that bestow the qualities of a good salesperson and the benefits of selling peace of mind. In these works, existential references to protectionism, self-defense, afterlife and the indelible connection to capital are ever-present.

Kevin Schmidt offers an intervention into the exhibition that alarms and warns through a imitative bird call, as Alex Morrison reconsiders local protest movements from the 1960s in the form of permanent bronze monuments to freedom and a commemorative plaque reclaimed as an ephemeral graphite rubbing. In a similar move towards historical revisionism, Sam Durant also tips the history of protest on its head by inverting and providing an eternal mirror image of the iconic Black Panther wicker chair that served as a back drop for Huey Newton’s message of black power. In Durant’s early photo series Empty he also literally empties loaded contents through the repetitive process of purging and draining bottles of alcohol, as if enacting a cleanse from over-consumption.

Activating a common apathetic phrase and transposing it to the past tense, Ron Terada reconfigures his neon work It Is What It Is, It Was What It Was, which reflects a global attitude of irresponsibility and complacency. In contradistinction, following the democratic gestures of Felix-Gonzales Torres, Geoffrey Farmer presents a sculpture initiated during time spent with a Quaker community in Boston Common which is linked to his ongoing interest in the rights and freedoms associated with the liberty bell and the reoccurring figure of the Hunchback of Notre-Dame. With a similar sensibility, Jin-me Yoon examines our larger metaphysical relationship to the world through the embodiment of a distorted phantom figure who subjugates human-centric verticality by crawling on the horizontal plane amidst thermal hot-spring sites in Japan that are communally shared.

Documentation by SITE Photography.