Sirens and Agitprop: Carrie Moyer in New York

Carrie Moyer - Intergalactic Emoji Factory, 2015

Carrie Moyer – Intergalactic Emoji Factory, 2015

“Sirens,” the aptly named solo exhibition of Carrie Moyer’s paintings currently at DC Moore Gallery (to March 26th) in Chelsea, leaves ensnared chromophobes fending for their lives.

Spanning numerous picture planes, a plastic acrylic universe erupts with fantastical, cosmic abstraction. At the Intergalactic Emoji Factory, a psychedelic landslide flows into a glittery, Technicolor galaxy. Moyer utilizes digital graphic design aesthetics and quirky references (such as the Green Lantern, or haircuts) with multi-lingual titles and iconic architectural structures. In Sala de Dos Hermanos’, horseshoe arches frame lyrical “Venus” forms in vibrant primary color. Next door to the arches, dead-center keyholes cheekily prop up planets and reveal lava-hot “plot holes.”  Decadent, rhythmically complex and personal, the works engage with art historical references such as color field painting, gestural abstraction and constructivist collage.

A triad of painterly sirens – Helen Frankenthaler, Elizabeth Murray and Georgia O’Keefe – is paid homage.  Form, color and movement fuse into incredibly complex visceral environments, both sensual and artificial.  A beautiful mood permeates multiple dialogues with art history, pop culture, feminism, politics and the body.

Candy cap

Carrie Moyer – Candy Cap, 2016

Moyer is no stranger to provocation, agitprop or intervention. A recipient of the Creative Capital award in 2000, Moyer co-founded, along with photographer Sue Schaffner, the queer-activist public-art project Dyke Action Machine! (DAM!). Their campaigns presented a hybrid form of public address where civic issues such were packaged to fit seamlessly into the commercialized streetscape.

Throughout the nineties and early 2000s, DAM! wheat plastered the streets of New York with public art projects that combined their background in commercial advertising and photography with Situationist tactics. The campaigns inserted lesbian images into recognizably commercial contexts, revealing how lesbians are and are not depicted in American popular culture. While questioning the basic assumption that one cannot be “present” in a capitalist society unless one exists as a consumer group, DAM! performed the role of the advertiser, promising the lesbian viewer all the things she’d been denied by the mainstream: power, inclusion, and the public recognition of identity.

DAM Coming Out

DAM! is currently featured in the group exhibition “Agitprop!” at the Brooklyn Museum. The fully realized last installment opens on April 6 with the addition of fifteen contemporary artists and collectives, nominated by the exhibition’s second round of participants.

Carrie Moyer’s two bodies of work, while seemingly disparate, each manage to affirm the life of an artist willing to confront mythological aspects of collective experience.

“Sirens” is on display through March 26. For more about the exhibition at DC Moore Gallery, click here.

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