Julia Martin’s DAYS ENDING IN WHY at AXENÉO7

DIM LIT WHITE CUBE WITH NARROW SLITS
SUMMARY:
“BAD-TOUCHED-HYPER-SEXED-GRIEF-STRICKEN-FAT-GIRL-CLICHE”i
LESS SPECIFIC LABEL: GENERIC ALL CAPS HIPSTER ARTii
TIES SEX WITH WORK AND PAIN
INSTAX PHOTO HEAPS IN A TRANSPARENT SHELLiii
FAMILY/FRIEND & FELINE ARCHIVESiv, SHORN DOWN TO INSTA-NON-MEMORIESv
HEAPS OF PAPER AT THE FOOT OF CONDO MINIMAL FRAME JOBSvi
HEAPS OF PAPER TO MOP UP AN EXCESS WITHOUT AN EXCREMENT
PROJECTED EMAILS, FLOWERS AND BODY FRAGMENTS
CAR ADVERTISEMENT PATHOSvii
“A SIGH IS AN EMOTIONAL RESET”viii

i One of the strongest elements of Martin’s show is that we are dealing with comedy. There are early Hal Hartley moments of funny and charm here and there. The rest of it is a Tumblr kind of humour.

ii After F (projection) is probably the best part of the show.

iii The unfortunate thing about the show is that, in spite of claims in her artist’s statement otherwise, it is actually the attitude to the materials and themes where the real joke lies. The work is so heavily worked over in academic terms that the residual excess is also paper and mass produced material. The question that arises is: does this actually make the work substantially more impersonal?

iv The archive has become a terrible academic cliche. This happened some time ago. I don’t know how many painful crits, MFA shows and talks I’ve had to endure dealing with it. Generously, I’ll assume that she’s joking when using it here. But even if it’s not deliberate mockery, it functions as such.

v An artwork never remembers.

vi On the opposite wall were photos blown up to distortion point, but only just. An almost-not-quite kind of breakdown. The visual equivalent of a cry for help or a Tumblr rant. More interesting was the crude and badly applied masking tape to the photos, which gave the whole wall the sense of being inflated from from the squalid bachelor apartment corner of a twentysomething.

vii There’s a weird split between the sculptural aspect of the works on display and the text element. The material qualities of the pieces often seem to be in air quotes and this discordance sometimes successfully adds to the sense of virtuality trumping any kind of embodiment in things. The sculptures in the side room are so profoundly lacking that reading them as more than an excuse for a documentation photograph would be disturbing. But this quality itself says a substantial amount about the work in the rest of the show. The kind of humour that is being invoked is a hovering, mild irony, not the grotesque material quality of satire.

viii From her accompanying text, “I feel now to replicate is to obliterate.” Could this point to the replication of artworld cliches in her work? Following the obliteration, what’s left? She talks around this, but the answer isn’t evident. The import of her novelistic tendencies might be of importance here, but the material qualities of her practice do little to back it up.

Julia Martin‘s “DAYS ENDING IN WHY” at AXENÉ07

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