Gallery: Rena Bransten
Opening Reception:Thursday, April 9, 2009 from 5:30 - 7:30pm
Exhibition Dates:April 9 - May 16, 2009
Address:77 Geary Street
"I am interested in depicting a decadent society in the midst of crisis. I would like to tell a story set in a time that is both past and present - a carefully constructed collapse of historical time capable of revealing what is common between our society now and societies in the past, as well as what is unique to our particular historical moment. In this work I am focusing on the commonalities between our time and Edwardian England, the decadent height of British imperialism, a time of empire for the sake of empire, on the eve of World War I and the beginning of the empire's decline.
Through the metaphors of the haunted house, the ancestral curse, and cannibalism/vampirism, I am exploring America's relationship to it's own past as well as that of imperial England as a haunting, a curse, and an ideological infection. I am interested in the cyclical nature of history as opposed to ideas of linear progress, especially how this relates to past and current ideas of American exceptionalism and the way those ideas have doomed us to repeat a history that we have felt entitled to ignore.
Through the metaphor of the ghost, I am exploring the role of repression in the building of societies at large. I am interested in repressions role in personal and national identity through the prescription of rigid social roles and simplistic cultural narratives, and in literalizing the return of the repressed and specter of the other in the form of hauntings. I am especially interested in the presence of surplus repression as a form of alienating social sickness indicating a tipping point where civilizing forces become excessive, restrictive and ultimately unstable.
I am building this story as if I am illustrating a novel that doesn't exist. If it did, it would probably be a lot like Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, or Bleak House - novels which use the popular conventions of fiction in order to seduce you into a story which ultimately functions as social commentary. I would like to highjack the ideological function of fiction - appropriating the character types and narrative conventions in order to construct an allegorical tale capable of challenging the simplistic cultural narrative of our own time in order to reaveal a much darker tale of moral decline, spiritual crisis, and rampant anxiety, all lurking beneath the siren song of material desire fueling the "progress" of a capitalist society in decline." marci