Teresa Farrell, invited by Alvaro Barrington: Permeation Quirk Activation While Getting Hoodwinked In The Wrackzone (not recommended)

January 12 - February 25, 2023

On the gallery’s third floor, Anton Kern Gallery is excited to present Teresa Farrell: Permeation Quirk Activation While Getting Hoodwinked In The Wrackzone (not recommended). Invited by Alvaro Barrington as a continuation of their long collaborative process and numerous joint exhibitions, both shows relate to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy. Farrell’s presentation hones in on the Rockaways, where Sandy was particularly destructive, and where she has hung out and lived on and off for many years (and currently does live and work). The artist has a deep affinity for the area, and an acute understanding of the local culture, which she both pokes fun at and celebrates. The exhibition is a dystopian psychedelic installation, filled with Rockaway personalities, figures, symbols, and found detritus, all fucked with through Farrell’s unique vision.

Comprised of paintings, sculptures, and various collage works, the show is an homage to the neighborhood. In one sculpture, a child-sized figure with a bowl for a head wields a machete and skates, wearing a shirt Farrell designed that mimics the logo of the only deli that will still be open for a late-night bite after an evening out. In another sculpture, two disembodied gloves push a wheelbarrow full of dirt and flowers to a coffin. Titled Live Fast Die, the work commemorates her recently deceased friend Pirate Pete, a wild soul whose years in Rockaway left an indelible mark on the many who knew him (the title refers to the words that were tattooed across his chest). American flags–a prominent fixture on many Rockaway houses–are here repurposed into warped collages with other symbols of American culture–Ronald McDonald, Cookie Monster. Another sculpture, fondly referred to as a scarecrow, rises out of a trash can like a deranged phoenix, wearing a dressing gown announcing to the viewer, “I’m Fine.”

The immersive installation is a wild journey. Though incredibly specific to a particular place and culture, Farrell’s strength lies in turning the local into the universal, allowing viewers to enjoy and embrace the quirky. The artist herself says it best:

It’s about freely quoting, embracing accidents, experimenting with mutations and accretions of detail over time, making lived-in things. It’s an “anything goes” approach to making, incorporating elements of the local culture as I find them -- the seasons, the stray cats, the good, the bad, the sexy and the not sexy. Interspersed within the work is a touch of allegory, direct confrontation and autobiography -- a freewheeling narrative for the viewer to go into or resist. There’s a series of triggers and surprises, favoring humor and poetry over opinion and prose. Pride, myth, lore and beachtown gossip are all smudged with my thumb, real and metaphorical. 

Installation Views