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Mary Ellen Carroll: Me Like Black

Posted Feb 04 2007 12:00am

{NOTE: Mary Ellen Carroll manages the Robert Blanchon estate.}

reblogged via NEWSgrist:

Mary Ellen Carroll: Me Like Black


Mary Ellen Carroll
curated by Peter Fleissig

February 3 – March 31, 2007

45 G.E. Patterson
Memphis, Tennessee
hours: Thursday-Friday,  3-8 p.m., Saturday 12-5 p.m.

"There is nothing that man fears more than the touch of the unknown" is the first line of the writer,  traveler, mystic and thinker Elias Canetti's seminal work, Crowds and Power. This tome on the social aspects of human nature posits that those who are not seeking power are wearing perplexing disguises.

Carroll's new body of work makes use of the city of Memphis not only as a
physical original but also a cultural, social-political and economic original as
well—a site of authenticity. The city is known to the rest of the world as the
home of Elvis, the civil rights movement and FedEx; but these institutions have become so globally ubiquitous that they are disassociated from the city of Memphis itself.  This 'invisibility' expands physically into the marketplace and generates  the copy, the fake, the imitation, the impersonation—all of which duplications can also be considered originals unto themselves.

Nothing truly exists until it is written about or photographed; hence, in Carroll's view, our symbiotic relationship to the media. This relationship is something that everyone from Yves Klein to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. has understood. Using duplication as a process and as a number game, Carroll's work will make a link to the power relationship that Elias Canetti pointed out between the individual and the crowd, one will utilize disguise and limit the effects of touch.

All of the works in the exhibition have the subject of impersonation as their conceptual and philosophical basis. Included in the exhibition will be ME LIKE BLACK,  two neon signs that are inverted mistakes that reference the 1960s book Black Like Me by white journalist John Howard Griffin, a civil-rights activist and friend of Dr. King who disguised himself as a black man and chronicled the experience. (This book had a particular effect on Carroll when she read it as an eleven year-old, taken from her sister's college bookshelf, inspiring her to darken her skin in a similar manner.)  Four new silkscreen paintings produced with Brand X Editions will be shown from Carroll's One Star Press publication and the larger body of work All of the Men Who Think They Can Be Me, titled Three's a Crowd. A double self-portrait from the series You and Me is based on the difference between how we see ourselves and how we are seen by others. A photograph titled Crowds and Power uses Canetti's book and the title as both its subject and object.

During the week before the exhibition's opening, the performance Whatever It Takes, an impersonation of the escaped Haley, the female polar bear that FedEx relocated from Chicago to the Memphis Zoo, will take place at the Power House. On the opening night Carroll will become the subject and object of the artwork during a special performance.

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