Past Perfect

Curated by Francesca DiMattio - December 14 - January 28, 2005

Curated by Francesca DiMattio

Tuesday, December 14 – January 28, 2005

Past Perfect is a poster exhibition curated by Francesca DiMattio of nine current female Columbia University School of the Arts M.F.A. students in the window space of Kantor Gallery in Chelsea. Artists Julieta Aranda, Sara Greenberger, Anya Keilar, Tamar Halpern, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Patricia Treib, Eileen Quinlan, Fay Ray, and Paula Wilson have produced a series of posters announcing fictitious exhibitions in art spaces or magazines that no longer exist.

Each artist placed her work within her ideal viewing space, allowing for collaborations and exhibitions that could happen in other times. Alison Elizabeth Taylor imagines a fantasy collaboration between herself and the late artist David Wojnarowisz (1954-1992). Wojnarowisz sometimes collaborated with others, writing stories other artists would draw. He also participated in shows at Fashion Moda, an independent space in the South Bronx that closed in 1993. Fay Ray’s poster also represents a longing for the past, specifically, as she imagines, for a time in the late ’60’s when Playboy magazine brought sexuality and humor together. Ray altered an old Playboy cover to include an interview with the artist Fay Ray (herself). Sara Greenberger created a large poster announcing a performance by her at famed New York restaurant/bar Max’s Kansas City at a time near its end when The Troggs were in residence there.

Some of the advertised exhibitions are completely fictional while others are specific to a real time and place. Anya Kielar imagines a fictional other self, an Eastern European traveler and artist with an exhibition in Poland in 1978. Eileen Quinlan’s poster, on the other hand, refers to an actual past. Her poster announces a two-person show of her work with Cheney Thompson at Canada Gallery in lower Manhattan that opened three days before September 11, 2001. “The opening was a happy one,” Eileen says, “But the show was little seen.” She watched news footage of people running in a cloud of dust right past the gallery door.

The press posters range in size, medium, and design. Paula Wilson’s nine small scale silkscreen and photo-litho posters function more as fliers announcing a fictional arts gathering at Helen Brown’s informal hair salon in Harlem. Wilson places herself in 1927 during the Harlem Renaissance with author Zora Neale Hurston and musician Claude McKay. The poster is “sponsored” by Madam C.J. Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, a popular hair relaxer at the time. Patricia Treib’s grand large-scale painted gouache on paper poster announces an exhibition of her paintings in the 1964 World’s Fair and loosely refers to the style of World Fair posters. Julieta Aranda’s poster, which imagines an exhibition at Long Island City’s Oil and Steel Gallery, layers oil and steel growth statistics during the years the gallery was open over an image of her work.

Past Perfect was a collaboration among the artists from its conception to installation. Each poster, however, reflects the conceptual and aesthetic vision of each artist. Three of the participants who have ties to Chicago—Sara Greenberger, Patricia Treib, and Paula Wilson—inserted reproductions of their work on a cover of the now defunct Chicago-based art magazine New Art Examiner. Past Perfect also includes its own press poster within the show.

The Columbia University School of the Arts is one of the country’s premiere arts institutions offering M.F.A. degrees in four divisions: film, theatre, writing, and visual arts. The School’s two-year visual arts program is taught by internationally celebrated artists and allows students to pursue M.F.A. degrees in a variety of media.