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Group Exhibition

Soft Machines

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Press Release

  • Soft Machines
    The Pace Gallery is pleased to present Soft Machines, a group exhibition of artists exploring the influence and effects of control mechanisms on the human body. The exhibition will feature works by Stuart Brisley, Kathryn Garcia, Anthony Keith Giannini, Kate Gilmore, Tim Hawkinson, Liz Magic Laser and Anna Ostoya, Lovett/Codagnone, Adam Pendleton, Paul Pfeiffer, Ma Qiusha, Holton Rower, Sterling Ruby, and Kiki Smith. Soft Machines will be on view at 545 West 22nd Street from July 14 through August 26, 2011. Through paintings, installations, sculptures, multimedia works, and performances, this exhibition examines the effects of society's coping devices and their influence on psychological and physical states. The title of the exhibition alludes to William S. Burroughs' subversive novel, The Soft Machine (1961), populated by control and the controlled where narcotics, alcohol, sex, power, money, religion, ideology and language expose the fragile entry points of the animal psyche, and the brutality exacted by the modern world. Soft Machines was curated by Sarvia Jasso, Harmony Murphy, and Nicola Vassell of The Pace Gallery. As part of the exhibition, Kate Gilmore will debut a new performance, entitled Through the Claw, 2011, during the opening reception on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 from 6 to 9 p.m. Throughout the duration of the evening, five women in pale pink dresses and heels will rip apart a large clay cube while also hurling it at the wall, critiquing the social construction of gender and male-centric art movements. After the performance, the remnants will remain in the gallery as an installation for the remainder of the exhibition. A new Double Vampire sculpture from 2011 by Sterling Ruby, whose diverse practice confronts contemporary isolation and the social structures that create it, will also be on view. Ruby will be the subject of a solo exhibition at The Pace Gallery, Beijing this fall. Other highlights include Lovett/Codagnone’s installation Give me the Night, 2011—a disco ball looming over steel barricades—referencing seventies-era repression of sexual freedom and bodily empowerment, and continuing the duo’s ongoing investigations of power relations and public/private dichotomies. Tim Hawkinson’s bodily impression is inverted and inflated in his life-sized, silicone skin Balloon Self-Portrait #4, 1996. Daisy Chain, 1992, by Kiki Smith, a leading figure among artists investigating the physical, social, and spiritual aspects of human nature, will also be on view. Versions of the disembodied head and links of steel on view in Soft Machines have been included in major museum exhibitions including Kiki Smith: A Gathering, 1980–2005 (traveled to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2005–7). In addition, Kathryn Garcia will explore the psychoanalytic idea of ‘le corps morcele’ (“the body in pieces”) in a mixed-media installation from 2011. Other featured works include Beijing-based artist Ma Qiusha’s gripping psychological portrait No.4 Pingyuanli to No.4 Tianqiaobeili, a video performance of the artist holding a razor blade to her tongue as she recounts short narratives about her life as a young artist, exploring artists’ conflict with societal, cultural, and familial pressures of achieving success; new work by Adam Pendleton from his System of Display and Black Dada series, playing with visual codes embedded in language; and Anthony Keith Giannini’s Gather then Mourn, 2011, which questions the role of media generated imagery in creating a contemporary grand narrative. Paul Pfeiffer’s 2004 video, Desiderata, uses the TV show The Price Is Right as a departure to examine the role mass media plays in shaping human conscious and highlighting society’s compulsion for money and materiality. British performance artist Stuart Brisley’s installation The Collection of Ordure, 2002, will confront pollution, excrement, excess and consumption in relation to the body. Liz Magic Laser & Anna Ostoya will debut Imprint (photographs), an ongoing project that began in 2009, which documents stains and the blood-like imprints of body parts—feet, ears, fingertips, etc.—in commercial spaces throughout New York City. Notions of artistic process, leisure pursuits and neurotic behaviors are merged to re-articulate consumer conduct. Holton Rower’s 6ac6g, 2011, an organic evolution of the artist’s experiments with incremental paint-pouring, referencing the effect of hallucinogenics in distorting perception and function of mind and body, will also be on view. For more information about Soft Machines, please contact the Public Relations department of The Pace Gallery at 212.421.8987. For general inquiries, please email; for reproduction requests, email


New York “Soft Machines” THE PACE GALLERY 510 West 25th Street July 14–August 26 Evoking William S. Burroughs’s 1961 novel The Soft Machine—which imagined the fate of a world controlled by forces like sex, violence, drugs, and fierce cultural hegemony—the sixteen works in “Soft Machines” illustrate the way these same forces insidiously direct day-to-day experience and can subsequently control an individual’s fate. Through the Claw, 2011, a performance by Kate Gilmore, debuted during the opening

Five women dressed in pastel spring dresses and slingbacks trudge through mounting piles of slippery material as they dig their hands, elbows and feet into a 7,500-pound clay cube, carve out a piece and hurl it at a wall. As a crowd smiles on, the gesture creates a satisfying thud. This was the scene last week as Kate Gilmore debuted a performance, Through the Claw (2011), for the opening of The Pace Gallery's group show "Soft Machines." For Gilmore, the performance is "less about endurance and