Friday, May 11, 2018 through Saturday, June 23, 2018
CSF and Royal NoneSuch present: Basic Essentials
part 1, will open at Charlotte Street Foundation’s La Esquina Gallery on Friday, May 11, 2018 and run through the June 23rd. After that run, Basic Essentials
Part 2 will showcase at Royal NoneSuch in Oakland, CA on July 14, 2018 through August 16th. The show is curated by Zoë Taleporos
, who is an independent curator in the Bay Area. The exhibition will feature three artists from Kansas City and from the Bay Area. Those artists are Mark Benson (OAK), Brandon Forrest Frederick (KC), Mik Gaspay (SF), Roaming Center for Magnetic Alternatives (KC), Laura Rokas (SF), and William Toney (KC).
Basic Essentials is an exhibition about objects - how they are used to construct identity, create a sense of belonging or isolation, offer or deprive us of agency. The six participating artists, Mark Benson, Brandon Forrest Frederick, Mik Gaspay, Roaming Center for Magnetic Alternatives, Laura Rokas, and William Toney, all experiment with materials and forms to reveal moments when common things are imbued with larger cultural significance. Working across methods of representation that include still lifes, trompe l’oeil, home movies, arte povera, and readymades, the artists in Basic Essentials examine how objects, and the various economies they represent, attempt to define who we are and how we are meant to be.
By co-opting the language of consumer marketing, Mark Benson’s work reveals how target markets are constructed, reinforced and internalized by tapping into our desires. His works function as stand-ins for psychological states that yearn for convenience, connection, romance, entertainment, and comfort. Through anthropomorphizing objects and using humor, he evokes empathy in the viewer as each work becomes representative of a unique, relatable protagonist.
Revealing moments when the mundane and the sublime converge, Brandon Forrest Frederick takes the refuse of consumerism - discarded beer cans, product wrappers, etc - and elevates their status through simple poetic gestures. Using lush skyscapes as backdrops, and incorporating imagery into glowing light boxes, these seemingly banal subjects are reinterpreted to offer moments of disruption that emphasize aesthetic over use value.
Mik Gaspay’s work investigates how mass-manufactured objects become markers of cultural and personal identity. Focusing on things commonly found in the home, often kitch decorations or other things meant purely for display, he recontextualizes objects to reveal a more complex narrative. Having migrated from the Philippines as a child, his work references the experience of assimilation, and the effect of capitalism on identity.
The Roaming Center for Magnetic Alternatives is a nomadic project by Kendell Harbin that considers the VHS tape as it heads towards obsolescence, and how that impacts the visibility of LGBTQ+ communities, particularly in the midwest. Through activities that include home movie digitization, a VHS tape lending library, video screenings, and skill building workshops, the RCMA looks to preserve and present stories of queer life, and speaks to the importance of using available tools and technology to self represent.
Working across several mediums, Laura Rokas explores symbols, icons, and emblems that are universally understood yet culturally specific. Recurring imagery such as hands with long red fingernails act as both the artist's alter ego and a generalized abstraction of femininity. Embroidered patches speak to how our desire to mark achievement and define identity can easily be co-opted. And referencing the visual rhetoric of professional cycling culture, her work investigates the relationship between branding, sponsorship and individual or group identity
William Toney uses mixed media and photography to examine mundane objects as traces of people and their actions. Combining the detritus of everyday life and common signifiers of African American culture, his work conflates the European tradition of still life paintings with the opulence of music video styling. Incorporating elements that are evocative of time and place, such as faux wood paneling and other framing devices, his work is an exploration of associative imagery.