WE THE PEOPLE
KATIE HOLTEN & FRIENDS
19 MAY – 14 JULY 2017
VAN HORN is delighted to present Katie Holten’s fifth exhibition at the gallery. We the People includes work that Holten has made in response to the 2016 U.S. election and a group of new works that she has collected from friends and colleagues.
Since the 90’s, Holten has explored the limits of Western notions of “nature” and “environment” and investigated the Anthropocene’s blurring boundaries between man-made structures and organic systems in drawings, sculptures, printed matter and public art. Since the election Holten has merged her ongoing activism with daily political organizing for the Resistance, a coalition of activist groups that has mobilized in response to the new administration.
Holten uses the first words of the U.S. Constitution, “We the People”, as the title for both the exhibition and a series of photo-collages of fellow resisters at rallies in the streets of New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles. Documenting the diverse, colorful, witty, and creative voices of the movement, the photographs affirm that “We the People”, the very citizens who give the government its powers, are uprising in an unprecedented wave of daily actions.
She Persisted is a series of portrait drawings of women who have inspired the artist. They are made as acts of daily meditation. Holten’s Pussy Alphabet transforms each letter of the English alphabet into a dancing femlin. The drawing is accompanied by the Pussy Font, a freely downloadable typeface. The viewer is invited to write to the U.S. president using an army of nasty women to spell things out for him. The resulting letters, with their tiny splayed limbs, resemble cuneiforms and the earliest forms of writing.
At the heart of the exhibition is Words Matter, a collection of found signs from rallies that the artist will reassemble in the gallery. Several years ago, experiencing a failure of language and narrative to express the many social, ecological and economic crises of the Anthropocene, Holten created the Tree Alphabet and published the acclaimed anthology About Trees (2015). During a research residency at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France and inspired by the writings of Roger Caillois, she created a Stone Alphabet (2016) abstracted from the patterns found in the local Karst landscape. Since she started constructing alphabets, we have seen further disintegration in language and the phenomenon of “alternative facts”. Like limestone itself, truth is eroding and facts are dissolving. Words Matter presents the powerful force uniting the Resistance, a collective expression of self-expression, humanity, empathy, and perhaps most importantly, humor.
The communal nature of the movement is reflected in Holten’s presentation of her Resistance Collection. It is a compilation of new works by friends and peers, including Polly Apfelbaum, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Erica Baum, Andrea Bowers, Priti Cox, Dovecote Collective, Carla Fernandez & Pedro Reyes, Kali, Lisa Kirk, Amy Sillman, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Nicola Tyson, and others.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a zine.
Katie Holten was born in Dublin in 1975 and grew up in rural Ireland. She lives and works in New York City. She represented Ireland at the 50th Venice Biennale (2003). She has had solo museum exhibitions at the New Orleans Museum of Art (2012); Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, (2010); The Bronx Museum, New York (2009); Villa Merkel, Esslingen, Germany (2008); Nevada Museum of Art, Reno (2008) and Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2007). She has received numerous awards including a Visiting Artist Residency at the American Academy at Rome (2017), bursaries from The Arts Council of Ireland (2012, 2010, 2005), a Fulbright Scholarship (2004), and a Pollock Krasner Award (2005). Her work is in the collections of institutions such as the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; The Arts Council of Ireland; Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; Nevada Museum of the Arts, Reno; European Patent Office, Munich; Villa Merkel/Stadt Esslingen. She is currently developing permanent public artworks for Dublin, Ireland and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.