Genevieve Gaignard: Apt. #3104
March 2 – 7, 2016
Skylight at Moynihan Station
421 Eighth Avenue, New York NY 10001
Shulamit Nazarian presents Apt#3104, a solo installation of new work by Los Angeles-based artist Genevieve Gaignard, curated by gallery director Renée Fox.
Gaignard’s practice focuses on diverse self-portraits of constructed archetypal characters. Inspired by facets of her own personality, her photographs engage in a process of cultural excavation that call into question notions of an ‘authentic’ self. Gaignard graduated from Yale University School of Art in 2014 with an MFA in photography.
Looking at Gaignard’s character-based self-portraiture, a host of impressive precursors come to mind: Cindy Sherman’s chameleonic caricatures, Adrian Piper’s The Mythic Being (1973), Yasumasa Morimura’s reprisals of iconic screen sirens. As a young, female artist, Gaignard encapsulates a highly intersectional perspective that does not fit into the mainstream standards of beauty.
Influenced by drag culture, Gaignard psychologically embodies her ‘characters’, while playfully negotiating the intersection between apportion and adaptation to capture each ‘characters’ layered identity. Further elucidating the interplay of character and context, Gaignard creates interior domestic environments to humanize her portraits. These spaces are furnished with found materials including wall-coverings, fixtures, chairs, and lamps—all functional props that provide a space for Gaignard’s photographs, sculptures, collages, and videos to reside and interact with one another.
For Apt#3104, Gaignard places the emphasis on her own biracial identity, while investigating societal assumptions surrounding race and body image. This new installation showcases recent photographs anchored in a site-specific immersive environment that is built for two existing characters––The Cat Lady and The Hairhopper––portrayed now as roommates sharing one domestic space.
In the Red finds Gaignard’s character, The Hairhopper, introduced in her 2015 solo exhibition Us Only at Shulamit Nazarian, within the City of Angels as a sexier and more unguarded subject. The Hairhopper stands in a poised manner on a seemingly deserted, sidewalk in the glow of a neon light.
The Cat Lady, who also debuted in Us Only, has transitioned from awkwardly hip nerd to an exceedingly fragile character on Muscle Beach. Decked in a loud, patterned bathing suit next to her kitty cat beach towel, Gaignard reveals her vulnerabilities and confronts her viewers with a forthright gaze. The golden pink light of a pollution-cast SoCal sunset stages the stark contrast between The Cat Lady’s physical self and the human iconography of this quintessential Los Angeles location.
Apt#3104 showcases an artist who is challenging notions of self in the ever-shifting environment of Los Angeles. Using The Hairhopper and The Cat Lady as vessels, Gaignard addresses the fluidity of race, gender, and sexuality in a city whose landscape appears boundless yet forces differences to be confronted in close quarters.