“JOE” explores the psychological and social effects of bearing the ur-generic name of Joe in a society obsessed with pushing personal expression to extremes, as seen in our cult worship of fame, infamy, and people so special they are known by only one name. The stigma of ordinariness can be particularly damaging to individuals toiling in a profession such as the visual arts that has historically valued uniqueness and originality above all, in fact, our apprehension of the sublime in the fact of an artwork’s singleness could be said to be art’s very raison d’etre. At the same time, it must be emphatically said, these are no ordinary Joes.
Joe Gibbons, whose website (http://joegibbons.net) lists his favorite food as Pizza delivery boys, uses film, video, and the undervalued epistolary art form to delve into the muddy territory of self – including that fraught area where the self meets its public, the challenging area where the self meets its Maker (or at least confronts his (?) Word), and also the area where the self tries to jump ship altogether, in favor of a new, improved self. Gibbons’ video and film have been exhibited in institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Centre Pompidou, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and has been included in three Whitney Biennials (1993, 2000, 2002). He has collaborated on performances, films and videos with artists Tony Oursler, Karen Finley, Tony Conrad, and Emily Breer. His last feature film “The Genius” had a month-long run in NYC’s Anthology Film Archives and was included in MOMA’s New Directors/New Films, and his most recent work “Confessions of a Sociopath” was included in “Best Films of the Year” lists in Film Comment and Artforum magazines.
Joe Zane looks from the recent history of art to himself in the mirror, then back again… and is undecided as to whether he comes up short. Making art in the long shadow cast by Bruce Nauman, Maurizio Catalan, Joseph Kosuth and Andy Kaufman, Zane questions the meaning of authenticity and originality using media that ranges from oil paint to customized plastic drinking straws. His recent projects include creating a highly convincing fake Phaidon monograph for himself, thereby taking an optimistic stab at inserting himself into the deified Contemporary Art Pantheon, constructing a large, rather saggy simulation of a neon sign trumpeting his own name – utterly powerless – titled “My Name in Lights,” and curating a group exhibition on the subject of humor, exploring the abject, performative, psychotic, and transformative aspects of this, one of his favorite topics. Zane is also an accomplished puppeteer and is soon to be quite adept at sleight-of-hand.
Zane’s work has been exhibited at Allston Skirt Gallery in one person shows in March 2006 and April 2004, and in “Likeness: Portraits of Artists by Other Artists” curated by Matthew Higgs at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, 2005; and “Two Friends and So On…,” curated by Rob Pruitt and Jonathan Horowitz at Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York, “Kapital,” at Kent Gallery, New York, and “Don’t Know Much about History,” at ArtSpace New Haven in 2006
The Nutty Professors
The Nutty Professors, from the show, JOE. The video is a collaboration with Joe Gibbons.
Laughter and Adulations
Laughter and Adulations, from the show, JOE. This video is presented on a small (3″x4″) lcd picture frame hanging on the wall. The video is a collaboration with Joe Gibbons
Wall Text (by Randi Hopkins):
Joe Zane presents a number of works that employ traditional artistic media and subject matter, including a bust cast in plaster and portraits rendered in oil paint, yet upon closer inspection, the possibility arises that none of Zane’s works are quite what they seem. The carefully arranged works are positioned to reflect and interact with each other, as the artist explores questions of artistic originality, the nature of representation, and the spirit of competition with humor and skill. The identity, and originality, of a painted portrait is called into question by the existence of an apparent “twin” on an adjacent wall, but are the two works really the same? Is it helpful to know that they were both painted, following the artist’s instructions, by workers in a factory in China? A third portrait appears to be hidden behind a drape – its title, The Triumph of Parrhasius (2008), refers to an ancient Greek painting contest in which the artist painted a “veil” across his work that was so lifelike that his competitor did not realize he had been taken in until he moved to draw back the “curtain” from Parrhasius’ painting.
The idea of doubles pervades Zane’s installation: double meanings, double images, and double languages take many forms here, from the visual double-take engendered by an object that might be a vase of flowers, or a double portrait, to the call and response of the painting For Pistoletto (I love you too) (2008), created in reference to a famed 1965 painting “Ti Amo” (I love you) by Italian Arte Povera artist Michelangelo Pistoletto. The connections between the works, whether with other works in the gallery, with works from art history, or with objects found in our everyday lives, are open to multiple interpretations, each different, complex, and equally correct.
Photography by John Kennard
* Note: On November 13, 2008, This key work in Zane’s installation has been temporarily removed from the show after it was unfortunately broken. The artist worked to create a new piece to take its place.
** On Novemeber 26, the artist installed Doppelgänger to replace Tulip Head.
This is a series sculptural objects made in the form of a Rubin’s Vase. A Rubin’s vase is a cognitive illusion in which perceptual experience oscillates between the figure and the ground. The figure takes the form of a vase, the ground the form of a person’s profile. In this case, the profile is the artist’s own image, in actual size.
L’Una Figura (One Figure) is a plaster sculpture which references the a work by the Arte Povera artist, Giulio Paolini, L’Altra Figure (The Other Figure). L’Una Figura is a life size plaster bust of the artist, in which the nose has been broken off and lies in a pile of rubble on the floor.
This is a selection from a series of painting of Applause signs.
This is a small edition of handmade Parkett magazine with myself and Joe Gibbons as the subject. Twenty books were printed and handbound. Contributing authors included, Joe Zane, Joe Gibbons, Tony Conrad and Jason Schiedel.
These paintings are based upon inspiration quotes by artists that I admire.