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Ana Prvacki: Neutralize Negative Feelings

Mar 1, 2013 – Apr 27, 2013

Using social codes and cultural structures as a raw material, Serbian-born, Los Angeles-based artist Ana Prvacki (pronounced Pri-vatch-key) turns the rituals of hospitality into a theater of performance. Until 2010 the artist was CEO of the brand Ananatural Productions, a conceptual factory of ideas ranging from the practical to the absurd, creating products which offered shortcuts to better living and designs for needs we never knew we had. Merging Martha Stewart with Marina Abramovic, the language of Prvacki’s work seems as familiar as IKEA or Emily Post but awkwardly turned on its head.

For the recent edition of Germany’s renowned contemporary art survey dOCUMENTA13, Prvacki was commissioned to create a series of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that were cleverly dispersed in locations throughout the city and on German television. The television spots helped citizens and tourists navigate difficult social circumstances like personal space, spinach in one’s teeth or accidentally spitting while speaking. These scenarios were played out on camera and then corrected by the artist, etiquette counselor Vartouhi Keshishyan and comedy group The Intecollectuals. The result is a strong mix of humor and instructional empathy empowering viewers with tools to recover their possible embarrassments with grace.

In her exhibition Neutralize Negative Feelings at UMOCA, Prvacki morphs her PSA work into a new artistic direction, historicizing the codes of imposed etiquette with the motivational sloganeering of past generations. Embroidered adages like “Happy Wife, Happy Life” are given new and more relevant meaning by updating it with current, universal situations of human folly and faux pas.

Prvacki’s installation is comprised of ceramic hearth plates, napkins with embroidered spinach spots, and the complete cycle of her PSA series. The public is invited to engage in dialogue about social codes, gossip, sewing circles and days of old in the founding of our new “Embroidery and Etiquette Club.”

Meeting every Friday in the gallery space from 6 to 8 p.m. for the duration of the exhibition, the club members are free to wax lyrical about their favorite circumstantial stumbles while creating embroideries in the style of Prvacki’s exhibition.

The Embroidery and Etiquette Club is a combined effort between the artist, UMOCA and LAXART, the Los Angeles-based curatorial initiative, to create a new series of artist-designed totes which will be available for sale after the close of the exhibit.