The Freudian dictum holds that where Id was, there Ego shall be. In Louise Bourgeois‘ terms, the successful realization of a sculpture functions to make conscious what was previously unconscious — that is, repressed and inaccessible — and discharge unwelcome or unmanageable instinctual impulses. Her symbolic forms, like the symptoms of the neurotic, are compromise formations between a wish and a defense.
The Destruction of the Father is a critical cathartic work in Louise Bourgeois’ artistic development and psychic life. Completed in 1974, the year after the death of her husband, Robert Goldwater, the work is a synthesis of the soft landscapes, poured forms, and sexually explicit part objects that she made starting in 1960. It is also the artist’s first installation piece and looks forward to the Cells of the 1990s.
Actor Mel Gibson rose to stardom in the 1979 film Mad Max, an action movie set in a dystopian future. In 2006, Gibson directed and cowrote Apocalypto, a dystopian fantasy set in the past. Drawing on durable colonialist tropes, Apocalypto portrays the indigenous civilizations of a pre-Colombian Central America as irredeemably brutal and doomed; the film ends with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. During the time that elapsed between the release of these two films, Gibson’s life took many sordid turns that land Apocalypto’s melodramatic tagline — “No One Can Outrun Their Destiny” — an ironic air. Mel Gibson Story (2010) by Jonathan Horowitz illustrates the actor’s downward spiral through a five-panel metamorphosis of the two movie posters.
Photographed in The Jewish Museum in Manhattan.
In the 1980’s, Andy Warhol befriended several young artists of notoriety, including Keith Haring, with whom he also collaborated. Celebrated for his public and socially conscious art, Haring is pictured here with his then-boyfriend, DJ Juan Dubose. This portrait (1983) is rare, within Warhol’s oeuvre and in the visual culture of its time, in its depiction of intimacy between an interracial same-sex couple.
Photographed, Against a Wallpaper Comprised of Warhol’s Silkscreened Celebrity Portraits, in The Jewish Museum in Upper Manhattan
In Arlene Shechet’s sculpture, past, present, and future are subtly intertwined. For Travel Light (2017) she begins with pair of candlesticks that her grandmother brought from Belarus in 1920; the only material objects that the family possesses from their country of origin.
As she sought to learn more about them, Shechet uncovered long-forgotten family documents, from which she was able to track-down previously unknown relatives. The work is a functioning candelabrum grown from the old candlesticks; like them, it may be used for the Sabbath ceremony.
Three more iterations of the work are planned. The artist has embedded an image of the cover of her grandmother’s passport in the sculpture and will ask each subsequent owner to give her a cherished family record, which she will also embed in the piece. Thus, Travel Light will accumulate new stories, as a suitcase acquires travel labels, embracing the future as well as the past.
Photographed in The Jewish Museum in NYC.