The Story That Isn’t There

Procession in Colonized Territory

Elektra KB, “Procession in Colonized Territory” from
“The Theocratic Republic of Gaia Book I”
2013, mixed media on paper, 19.5 x 12 x 2 inches
(Courtesy BravinLee Programs

Women guerrillas in veils and petticoats.   A female rebel army taking arms against a police state.  In photo ops they pose aiming machine guns and chainsaws.       Their weapons, however, shoot only rays of light.

Procession in Colonized Territory

Elektra KB, “The Theocratic Republic of Gaia Book I, “
2013, mixed media on paper, 19.5 x 12 x 2 inches
(Courtesy BravinLee Programs)

The  book telling this story, by Electra KB, is hand-sewn, collaged on paper with pigment prints, fabric, felt, thread, silkscreen and mixed media. Pages of the book were exhibited recently at BravinLee Programs.

The artist, a recent School of Visual Arts grad, describes The Theocratic Republic Of Gaia as “a critique against our contemporary status quo, and a call to break from it.”   Read more on her website.

Born in Odessa and raised in Bogota, Colombia,   Elektra is, she says, “A foreigner everywhere I have lived, always an outsider. My only constant is the world I have created.”

By contrast, John Baldessari  has always lived in Southern California  (far as I know).   The 82-year-old pioneer in conceptual art has made more than a few collages in his time. A current show of paintings with collage elements at Spruth Magers Gallery in Berlin challenges the whole notion of narrative.

Storyboard (in 4 parts) riffs on the notion of filmmakers’ sketches plotting the action.  The gallery describes the project this way:

Each storyboard consists of two photographs ripped out of newspapers and magazines, a text panel which may implant a scene in the head of the viewer, and a color chart which takes up the hues of the individual pictorial elements.

…this combination of images…causes the yearning for conventional narration to miscarry in an enigmatic manner.

John Baldessari, “Storyboard (in 4 Parts): Man Fixing Curlers in Woman’s Hair,”
2013 Varnished inkjet print on canvas with acrylic and oil paint

At play is a deconstruction of the stories we tell ourselves.  Baldessari questions cliches we imbibe from the media. In  each “Storyboard,” the four images defy any logical connection. So the viewer is made aware of how extravagantly s/he will imagine a narrative that isn’t there.

So which do you like better? An imaginary narrative you might need, or a critique of the fictions you could live better without?

Image credits: 1) Elektra  2) Elektra   3) Baldessari   4) Baldessari

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