Thursday, June 03, 2010

Jeffry Cudlin: BY REQUEST

Flashpoint Gallery Presents
Jeffry Cudlin: BY REQUEST
June 25 – July 31, 2010
Opening Reception: Friday, June 25, 6 – 8 pm

Photo by Josh Cogan

WASHINGTON, DC – This June, the ideal Washington, DC art show will take over Flashpoint Gallery. Artist, curator, and critic Jeffry Cudlin has engineered a celebrity-obsessed exhibition that purports to reveal in excruciating detail what collectors, critics, and museum administrators think area artists should be making.

For BY REQUEST, Cudlin approached seven DC art world luminaries and asked each to fill out a 20 page survey. Questions were all multiple choice, and attempted to uncover everything from preferences regarding paint handling techniques; to opinions about museum “fluff” shows and art blogs; to each patron’s personality type. Pink Line Project founder Philippa Hughes; blogger and critic Tyler Green; The Phillips Collection director Dorothy Kosinski; Irvine Contemporary gallery director Martin Irvine; National Portrait Gallery Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings Anne Collins Goodyear; collector and curator Henry Thaggert; and uber-collector Tony Podesta all agreed to play along.

Once the surveys were completed, Cudlin recruited an atelier of seven area artists working in a variety of media and styles. Torkwase Dyson, Victoria F. Gaitán, Jason Horowitz, Jenny Sidhu Mullins, Cory Oberndorfer, Kerry Skarbakka, and Trevor Young all accepted commissions from Cudlin to create personalized pieces based on the survey data.

There was one small catch: Cudlin insisted that he be depicted in every work of art, thereby inflating his own importance in brokering all of these transactions, and transforming himself into the show’s biggest celebrity. The resulting images are at times outlandish, featuring Cudlin cross-dressing, holding a severed pig’s head, and even sporting a pair of fake latex breasts, courtesy of an FX makeup artist.

In BY REQUEST, Cudlin plays with the notion—popular with many contemporary artists and theorists—that the chief content of art is social. If art ultimately depends on exchanges of information, capital, and power, then simply examining the agendas of people in positions of authority should tell us all we need to know about why art looks and works the way it does right now.

All of the finished pieces in the show will be assigned numeric scores by the seven patrons for whom they are intended. Critics need not second guess: the gallery will include informational displays of facts and figures indicating whether the patrons regard these works as successes or failures. BY REQUEST offers the promise of complete transparency for the DC art world and, perhaps, a model for other artists desperate to become relevant.

Flashpoint Gallery • 916 G Street, NW • Washington, DC 20001

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