Frith Street Gallery

Golden Square

17-18 Golden Square, London W1F 9JJ
T +44 (0)20 7494 1550 ~ F +44 (0)20 7287 3733

Image of: American Gothic
  • Cornelia Parker
  • American Gothic [still], 2017
  • Enlarge

Cornelia Parker

28 April 2017 – 21 June 2017

Frith Street Gallery, Golden Square & Soho Square

Cornelia Parker is one of Britain’s most acclaimed contemporary artists. Her work transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary by combining visual and verbal allusions that trigger cultural metaphors and personal associations. This exhibition is taking place at both gallery spaces. Golden Square showcases a new series of videos filmed in New York City late last year, while Soho Square shows a number of other films and recent work.

In 2016 Parker was commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to create a site-specific installation for the museum’s roof garden. The resulting work, Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) was made during the rancorous US presidential election. It was inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper and by two emblems of American architecture—the classic red barn and the Bates family’s sinister mansion from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho. Nearly 10 metres high, the sculpture was fabricated from a deconstructed red barn and appeared to be a genuine house, hovering over Central Park, but was in fact a set-like structure consisting of two facades propped up from behind with scaffolding. Simultaneously authentic and illusory, Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) evoked the psychological associations embedded in architectural spaces. Traditionally, when on the campaign trail, US politicians of both stripes pose in front of archetypical red barns, to profit from their association with a wholesome America. Conversely PsychoBarn signaled all that is not so well in the American psyche, looming on the city’s skyline as a harbinger of things to come.

Parker visited New York at the end of October 2016 to give lectures about the PsychoBarn prior to its de-installation. Fittingly its closing date was Halloween, the old festival of All Saint’s Eve, which has been famously elevated in the USA to a theatrical celebration far removed from its folkloric and religious origins. It was a just a few days until the election itself and she and her husband used their iPhones to film people dressed up on the streets. In the resulting video American Gothic the ghoulish revelers are captured having their last hurrah, mingling with the crowds of the un-dead. Filming students on Saturday night in the East Village queuing for clubs, they came across a lone ‘Donald Trump’ in Gotham Pizza, the only reference to the ongoing daily political fervour. On All Hallows night in Greenwich Village every American archetype, good and bad, seemed to be out promenading the sidewalks, from superheroes, vampires, clowns, ghouls, trolls, Freddie Krueger and Hannibal Lecter, Uncle Sam, Dorothy and the characters from The Wizard of Oz, all captured in the slo-mo revolving lights of police cars.

***
Cornelia Parker (b. 1956, Cheshire) has had numerous solo exhibitions including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Whitworth, Manchester, The British Library, London, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, and Baltic, Gateshead. Parker’s work is represented in many international collections including Tate, London, The Caixa Foundation, Barcelona/ Madrid, and the Museum of Modern Art, and The Met, New York. She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1997, elected to the Royal Academy in 2009, awarded an OBE in 2010, and won Apollo Magazine Artist of the Year Award 2016.