Margaret Curtis: This, too. is on view in the Street Gallery through November 9, 2024

Amalia Ulman: Stock Images of War

Aug 14, 2015 – Oct 31, 2015

Exploring themes of confinement, fragility, and pain, Amalia Ulman’s Stock Images of War blends divergent senses of pleasure and discomfort. Delicate wire sculptures augmented into familiar shapes—such as bicycles, wheelchairs, and tanks— eerily rest against a sensory backdrop of rock music and the scent of apple pie.

Produced during a period of trauma and recovery, Ulman’s metal figures struggle with an imperfect balance as they oscillate between stability and complete collapse. Such representations of frailty mimic the conflicted state of war culture wherein notions of pride and retribution are counteracted by the nausea of violence and torment. The overwhelming scent of cinnamon and sugar further evokes unease, as the aroma is reminiscent of air fresheners in clinical settings as a way to cloak the stringent odor of sanitizing chemicals.

Resonating throughout the space, teen songs by bands such as Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, and Rage Against the Machine, suggest a demographic of soldiers who comprise a significant portion of the U.S. military. Through this layering of image, scent, and sound, Ulman’s Stock Images of War generates an aesthetic language that blurs the distinction between the artist’s personal experience and the objects of study. By pointing to the absurd, yet complex facets of youth culture, neoteny, and positions of class, Ulman’s provocative installation cleverly deconstructs connotations of war in western pop culture.

About the Artist

Amalia Ulman (b. 1989) is an Argentinean-born, predominantly Spanish-raised artist, based between the cities of Los Angeles, London, New York and Gijón. As a self-described transatlantic expat, a spirit of national nomadism and outsider cultural inquisitiveness inform her practice. Recent solo shows and projects include International House of Cozy at Showroom MAMA, Rotterdam (2015); Stock Images of War at James Fuentes, New York (2015); The Destruction of Experience at Evelyn Yard, London (2014); Babyfootprints Crowsfeet, Ellis King, Dublin (2014); and Excellences & Perfections, a performance in social media that has been archived by Rhizome and will become a video for MOCAtv. Ulman designed the application Ethira with the support of Arcadia_Missa and The Moving Museum. She has written numerous essays and participated in talks at Art Basel Miami Beach; The Swiss Institute, New York; and ICA, London.