When I Am Empty features the work of seven artists that explore the myths of the American dream that govern and shape our personal narratives. The title of the exhibition comes from a prompt from the manufacturer on a Whatacup beverage container. Enlarged to bodily proportions by the late photographer Chuck Ramirez, the empty cup and phrase take on a new meaning, drawing attention to the spent, drained, state of Americans, physically and mentally. The message also communicates the inherent disposability of cheap, mass-produced goods and the larger structures and systems that belie economic mobility and how people are valued in our society.
The question of proper disposal elicited by the fast food cup hints at a larger overarching impulse for these artists with their work: what remains of pleasure and desire when something is emptied out? Can we see this moment of emptiness as also a site or place of potential? Drawing on Pop art and advertising aesthetics, the exhibition examines consumption through both its allure and contradiction, playing with ideas of mimicry, duplication, and violence. As Vince Aletti notes with Pacifico Silano’s photography, it is “intensely pleasurable, yet haunted by pleasure’s limits.”
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly is curated by BRIC Curator Jenny Gerow with support from Artist Tahir Carl Karmali and Curatorial Intern Augusta Weiss.
STROBE WARNING: Video in back left corner of the Gallery
List of Works in Exhibition