April 8 - May 13, 2017
Artist's Reception: April 8, 2017, 6-9pm
Show Catalog (pdf, 4.85 Mb)
Charlie James Gallery is delighted to present Consumption, our first solo show with Los Angeles-based artist Nancy Buchanan.
Intending to focus on painting at UC Irvine, Nancy Buchanan’s (b. 1946, Boston, MA) conceptual bent started when she was a student of Robert Irwin. Absorbing his lesson that art is an experience rather than an object, she extended her production to unusual materials (shredded newspaper, human hair) and methods of presentation. Buchanan works across drawing, performance, video, collage, mixed media work and installation. As she embraces the notion that art should evidence the time of its making, Buchanan’s pieces often addresses social and political issues.
“Consumption” was the 19th-century name for tuberculosis, from the Latin root con (completely) plus sumere (to take up from under), a disease Buchanan suffered from as a young child. The term’s modern definitions include “the using up of a resource,” “the ingesting of something,” and “the purchase and use of goods and services by the public,” among others. For Buchanan, the term “Consumption,” with its dated and contemporary definitions serves to organize a portrait of the contemporary moment drawn from four different bodies of work by the artist. The “It’s About Time” collage series consists of densely interwoven luxury wristwatch advertisements – furious meditations on American obsession with time, branding, and status, with nods to both Marclay and the shiny object fixation occupying today’s higher reaches of the art market. This series works in partnership with Buchanan’s other recent body of work in the show titled “50 Shades of Cake,” a photo-based series which combines attraction and repulsion in the sumptuous display of grayish-hued cakes and pastries. These two contemporary series are supported by earlier works from Buchanan’s career that build in historical perspective – works from the “After California” series and two of Buchanan’s miniatures with video. “After California” is a series of classic 20th-century California landscape images that Buchanan has updated by incorporating the suburbs now adorning their open spaces. Since 1988, Buchanan has collaborated with Carolyn Potter to make miniatures incorporating video. In “American Dream #6,” their very first piece together, every surface is littered with home improvement brochures while Joe McCarthy is shouting on TV, and bundled newspapers trace the history of atomic weapons. Another miniature – “Use Value” celebrates the local economies of garage sales.
Buchanan will donate 50% of the proceeds of her sales from the “50 Shades of Cake” series to the LAMP organization (begun in 1985 as Los Angeles Men’s Place) that assists homeless people in and around Skid Row.
Beginning with her participation as a founding member of F Space Gallery in Costa Mesa, Nancy Buchanan has been involved in numerous artists’ groups including The Los Angeles Woman’s Building and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE); she has also acted as curator for several exhibitions and projects. Her work has been seen domestically and internationally and she is the recipient of four National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist grants, a COLA grant, and a Rockefeller Fellowship in New Media, which enabled her to complete Developing: The Idea of Home, an interactive CD-ROM, in 1999. Her work has been shown in exhibitions at MOMA, MOCA, the Centre Pompidou, the Getty Research Institute, and was included in four of the Getty-sponsored Pacific Standard Time exhibitions; in 2013 she had a solo screening of her videotapes at REDCAT. Recently, she organized a durational performance at UC Irvine’s xMPL Theater as the second event in The Art of Performance; also, her videos were included in Agitprop at the Brooklyn Museum; RE-ACTION, a traveling exhibition originating in Spain; and Jonny at Insitu, Berlin. From 1988-2012, she taught in the Film/School at CalArts; she worked with community activist Michael Zinzun on his cable access show Message to the Grassroots for ten years and as a member of Zinzun’s LA 435 Committee, she traveled to Namibia to produce a documentary about that country’s transition to independence from the Republic of South Africa. Buchanan lives and works in Los Angeles.