Pre-Fab/Post-Fab: Art in a Readymade Era
Pop-up exhibition by Detroit-based artists Heidi Barlow, Shaina Kasztelan, Bailey Scieszka
Jan 18 - Feb 23, 2018
9:00 AM-5:00 PM
Institute for the Humanities Common Room
202 S. Thayer
Pre-Fab/Post-Fab: Art in a Readymade Era showcases the works of Heidi Barlow, Shaina Kasztelan, and Bailey Scieszka, three young women artists based in Detroit, MI. Their work, although varying in style and form, speaks to a generation growing up with the influence of mass consumption, internet shopping, the glut of plastic toys, fake jewels, and tchotchkes. Whereas artists of the ‘60s and ‘70s reached first for paint tubes and canvas, these artists use inexpensive and lowbrow materials to twist the signifiers of pop culture, as they relate to gender politics and American ideals. It’s a balancing act between the icing and the cake, surface and substance.
Barlow’s confection-like constructs are unsettling, much like an empty float or matted-hair Barbie in a backyard pool. Although enticing, they allude to something lost in the translation, some sweetness, or idealism gone missing, along with what once mattered. Yet, the work isn’t cynical, but embraces transition instead. We’ve hardened a little in the process, much like the stiff and sugary piping Barlow often incorporates in her works. And maybe that’s a good thing.
If Barlow’s aesthetic leans towards Stepford Wives gone awry and the guilty pleasure of eBay, Shaina Kasztelan offers us psychedelic Middle America. Her assemblages are disorienting, vertigo-inducing. Technicolor sculptures conjure up hallucinations of the mall, or spinning carnival rides that last too long. Kasztelan’s work is sinister, even a little menacing. As viewers we are leery.
Finally, Bailey Scieszka takes this subversive garish ethos full tilt and invents her own world, literally morphing into her own creation. Scieszka’s alter-ego Old Put, a demonic shape-shifting clown, becomes the artist/protagonist and creates work in performance, video and drawing. Old Put collects pop culture references like artifacts of a lost civilization, and seems as likely to commit a murder as bake a cake.
For Barlow, Kasztelan and Scieszka, outdated paradigms about class, good taste, and femininity are just temporal flashes in the pan. And it’s their party.