Thursday, September 30, 2021

Funny Ha-ha AND Funny Strange

 Robert Boyd

I want to write a brief note on Emily Peacock's new exhibit which is up at Lawndale Art & Performance Center through January 15, 2022. The name of the show is die laughing

I've been following Peacock's work for a long time. The first time I saw her work and was aware of it was in 2011 when she was part of the MFA exhibit at U.H. That was a great class--Francis Giampietro, Britt Ragsdale and Jeremy Deprez were three of the class of 2011, along with Peacock. I've written about Peacock and her work several times over the years, but more than that, I've acquired work by Peacock, supported her film project, had her exhibit in the Pan Art Fair (a satellite to the Texas Contemporary Art Fair in 2012), published her work in the single issue of EXU that I published (still available from from the Pan store), and become friends with the artist. Because of this long-time relationship, I am reluctant to try a full-on piece of criticism about die laughing. But I do want to show off some of the works and maybe comment briefly about some of them.

Fast Burning Type, double-sided video, "every rock my son has ever handed me," nylon fibers, 2021

I love that the list of materials includes "every rock my son has ever handed me." I like that it suggests that the first time that happened, Peacock decided, "I'm going to keep this." And between the time I met her, when she was a student, and now, she has a son! Family has always been a major factor in Peacock's work, and the death of her mother was the catalyst for some powerful work

My Very Own OOF, spray paint on canvas, 2021

Peacock is a funny artist and a funny person. I've heard her do stand-up and she's not bad. She never shies away from humor in her work--she is never afraid that it might make her seem unserious. And Peacock's OOF does directly refer to Ed Ruscha's painting OOF. Another artist who was not afraid to be funny. 

Helluva Performance, archival inkjet print mounted to aluminum, 2021

The after years of making photos of the previous and current generation of Peacocks, I guess it's time for the next generation to get some lens time. 

Tastes Funny, trophy, fruit roll-up, fruit by the foot and aluminum pedestal. 2021

Somehow I doubt that Tastes Funny is archival. 

Tastes Funny detail, trophy, fruit roll-up, fruit by the foot and aluminum pedestal. 2021

Funny Bone: I Don't Feel Til It Hurts, plaster cast of the artist's elbow, 2021


 Funny Bone: I Don't Feel Til It Hurts detail, plaster cast of the artist's elbow, 2021


 Increase the Contrast, Plexiglas, vinyl & two lawn chairs, 2021

When I first encountered Peacock's work, she was strictly a photographer. For some artists, mastery of one medium is at least part of their goal as an artist. But for some, what they want to express requires a certain flexibility. I wonder if specialization is a product the progress--as human knowledge increased, it became more and more difficult to be good at everything. That makes sense in the sciences and in knowledge fields, but I wonder why the arts were dragged along in this movement towards ever-increasing specialization. Peacock may have gotten  a degree in photography, but her work, while always including photos, has moved beyond the simple statement: "Emily Peacock is a photographer." Emily Peacock is an artist.

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