Time Space Trials and the Packrat Dirge (or the Theme from Human Interest Story), on view from March 28 through May 2, 2009, at Luis De Jesus Seminal Projects, expands on Jason Sherry's interest in shedding light on the absurd, irrational, and unpredictable side of human nature. Sherry channels his unconventional engineering skills and probing intellect into musical instruments of personal nostalgia that provoke humor and demonstrate his ability to find the bizarre in even better forgotten memories and points of history. Among the ideas explored in the exhibition are Sherry's proposal to President Obama for using the secret military installation H.A.A.R.P. to record sound on the magnetic belt surrounding the earth, his fascination with Lionel Barrymore in the title role of "Rasputin", and his recurring interest with the gene FOXP2 (implicated in the development of language skills), which we share with Neanderthals.
In The Packrat Dirge an old pump organ has been dismantled and reassembled into a functioning, electrified miniature hybrid of its former self, its keyboard and body transformed with the furtive remnants of a close friend's recent divorce (i.e., vintage movie and porno magazines). Tickling its keys allows one commemorate the affair and indulge in a sardonic expression of sympathy. [A forerunner to The Packrat Dirge, titled “Thou doth summon the 13th planet thusly”, 2007 (Salke Collection, Boston), incorporates a black, upright piano “shrunken” to one full octave.]
Influenced by the antics of his former bass-playing rock band days, another sculpture, titled Time Space Trials, presents an adolescent's BMX bicycle reincarnated with a functioning turntable and speaker. Riding Time Space Trials for the first time (with the needle on the record, each peddle producing a rotation of the turntable), Sherry identified the music by saying with a smile: "I hate them, but, it had to be Iron Maiden." Time Space Trials is accompanied by a separate video featuring some of the artist's friends engaged with their musical choices. In what could be termed a neo-fluxus performance, sound clarity and recognition is replaced by futility, distortion and near-total incomprehensibility, underscoring Sherry’s interest in examining the pathetic, absurdist side of human ingenuity.
In addition to sculptures, the exhibition includes new photo/print collages (executed in Sherry’s signature style of re-contextualized pop images) that pay homage to Constructivist, Dada, and Surrealist strategies. An intrepid scavenger of old negatives and vintage, low-culture photography, Sherry weaves together Cyanotype and Van Dyke Brown prints of mesmerizing-but-nameless beautiful women, group photographs of mysterious, esoteric societies, advertising graphics, 18th and 19th-century engravings, and clippings of long-forgotten Hollywood models and stars—at times even printing on obscure materials from a bygone period.
The results are richly layered compositions that indulge his compulsive appetite for military history and human evolution, fallen political leaders and space aliens, psychoanalysts and "deep thoughts", ancient races and mysterious cosmic occurrences, perverted nuns and crazed theologians, large-breasted topless women and strange deformities, morality parables and conspiracy theories, brilliant scientists and social deviants, nerds and dweebs, and other behavioral oddities inhabiting the vast recesses of the human psyche.
[jason and neil] In conjunction with the exhibition, the gallery will host an informal, free-form question and answer session, Jason Sherry and Neil Kendricks: In Conversation, on Saturday, April 18, starting at 2 p.m. Neil Kendricks is Film Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD). An award-winning filmmaker, photographer, artist, writer, lecturer/professor—and, since the early 1980s, a long-time Comic-Con devotee—he is also the founder of MCASD's popular, annual film event, "alt.pictureshows". The event is free and open to the public.
Jason Sherry is currently participating in LOW BROW: Nine San Diego Pop-Surrealists, on view at the Oceanside Museum of Art, in Oceanside, CA, through May 24.