Curated by Nicolas Djandji
November 10th, 2011 – January 14th, 2012
Employing mass-produced products designed for bodily self-improvement, the artists in Performance Anxiety explore contemporary manifestations of consumer culture. Here, the flimsy notion that the pursuit of athletic, hygienic, and professional perfection should be sought through the constant purchase of new products is cast into doubt. Through a series of works arresting these normally utilitarian, performance-ehancing products in sculpture, Performance Anxiety waxes upon the paradoxical, collectively shared desire of the present-day individual to become superhuman – physically fit, sexually attractive, and immaculately groomed – by way of altering the body’s chemistry and obscuring its most basic functions. Contextualizing these items as aesthetic elements rather than functional goods, each artist carves a meditative space reflecting upon the absurd modus operandi of these products.
Drawing on the legacy of Minimalist sculpture, the included artists point to both artists historical cues – for instance, the removal of the artist’s hand and the introduction of quotidian materials into the realm of high art – but also, in reversal, how the Minimalist aesthetic has come to factor into marketing consumer goods, specifically communicating measures of taste and sophistication. If Minimalism spoke to the particular logic of an industrial culture, the works in Performance Anxiety highlight a consumer-oriented one, in which such products on display are widely available and part of a mass-cultural idiom.
By framing these “maximalist,” mass-produced products within strikingly pared-down supports, works included here become, in effect, comedic. Further, through their overwhelming olfactory presence, the viewer’s relationship to the objects in the space becomes activated. Speaking simultaneously to the degeneration of Minimalism’s once-radical content through its subsumption as a marketing tool, Performance Anxiety unearths our hesitance to critically consider our own relationships to both these types of items and to our oft-impenetrable, unconscious relationships to advertising, to which no one is alien.
The exhibition presented here comprises the research of Nicolas Djandji in the last weeks of his life. We know, undoubtedly, that this is not the complete exhibition Nick would have ultimately created; however, it was our goal to execute his initial ideas. Administrative and curatorial support in creating this exhibition has come from the combined efforts of several of Nick’s friends (in alphabetical order): Karen Archey, Lauren Christiansen, Jamillah james, Mae Petra-Wong, Leah Recht, and Rachel Wetzler.
Special thanks to Michel Djandji, Rick Jacobsen, Emily Johnson, Kelly Lasserre, and Ray Recht whose support made this exhibition possible.
Exhibited artists include Steve Bishop, Christopher Chiappa, Timur Si Qin, and Ben Schumacher.
Exhibition Images ->
Nicolas Djandji was born in Alexandria, Egypt on November 8th, 1986. He graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art with a dual degree in Painting and Illustration. In addition to his work as an artist, he held positions at White Box, Art In General, and Dia Art Foundation. Nicolas played an important role in curating the gallery’s first exhibition, Performance Anxiety. He also generously gave his time and energy helping with the renovation of the space, collaborating with Stadium’s founder, Leah Recht, and discussing directions for future programming.
On September 2, 2011 Nicolas tragically passed away as a result of a cycling accident. Performance Anxiety, presented on what would have been his 25th birthday, is a tribute to his work during the final months of his life.