BOSI Contemporary is pleased to present, Etiquette Kit, a solo show featuring the works of Anna Campbell. The desires of a culture are laid bare by the tools and props that construct and then accumulate around scenes of the “ideal,” from heroic masculinity to privileged forms of desire. Through sculpture, installation and video, Anna Campbell’s work conflates and abstracts queer and ostensibly normative bodies, cutting from narratives otherwise understood as impermeable, and presenting viewers with assemblages of resultant slices. This critique via form, space, and image challenges the social dynamics that reinforce our constructions of the ideal, the universal versus the deviant, and the particular or minor, and owes much to the radical potential of failure, a deconstructing force that has been instrumental in shaping her work.
Campbell’s engagement with form shifts fluidly based on the intended intervention. For the Etiquette Kit series, 2 x 4s, mirror balls, latex ruffles, custom cast concrete cinderblocks, balsa wood trusswork, and fishnet fabric combine in a continuing push to create hybrid forms whose aggressively vulnerable queer signifiers are interdependent with their seemingly normative and immutable authoritarian forms. Citing the staging of ideal recognized “types” through construction motifs, the vernacular of furniture, and accessories with baggage, this series points to larger themes and social constructions to insinuate divergent possibilities. To this end, gender inversion and queer politics infuse this work and act as a lens to re-examine common forms and spaces. This constellation of tactics re-forms expectations of desire and challenges the social and political impact of pursuing those desires.
A Pocket, A Cue, A Shot is built using the framing method for domestic architecture. Pine 2 x 4’s set at 16” distance are employed in constructing the frame for a pool table whose “felt” is a bare mattress punctuated by pockets lined with sheer stockings. The rawness of the piece, including the exposed industrial materials of the mattress’s interior, disallows for the possibility of settling on a tidy or finished read. Its title, A Pocket, A Cue, A Shot, encourages a reading that is both about the posturing potential of the game of pool and the bravada of calling a shot, as it is about the extended combo shot wordplay of innuendo where cues and shots are all about reaching into otherwise elusive pockets. This is a table without sticks or balls – the tension it creates is not related to any immediate playability, but rather for an anticipated potential. As an object, the bed/table/ model of domesticity conflates the social and sexual imperatives that infuse the atmosphere of the gay bar. It offers a tension that emphasizes the intimate connections forged in both the context of the bar and the bedroom. The public pleasure of playing a game, and the private pleasures indicated by the mattress offer a narrative that is both subtle and charged.
Sites, in addition to citation, are core to her practice. Travelling to specific sites such as the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn, to study the collections of their archives have been key to her practice. Engaging the specific historical and social contexts of the sites where she exhibits work offers a further means to connect with the legacy of a place. The exhibition will also feature never before exhibited laser cut outs of a collection of images abstracted from the photo collection of the Lesbian Herstory Archives. Compiled during a month in residence at the Archive, Campbell has modified the images, isolating only hands, bare arms, and any objects they may hold. Campbell’s selective editing prompts the viewer to fill in the gaps not only of the physical image itself but also in the narratives of everyday lesbian life they depict. The exhibition, Etiquette Kit, suggestively offers the tools and props to enact counter-narratives for what may be considered proper, and to champion alternate approaches to behavior preparedness.
Anna Campbell (b. 1979, Port Jefferson, New York) is an American artist. She uses sculpture and site-specific installation interwoven with video projection, her work deconstructs otherwise clearly legible signifiers of masculinity and heteronormativity in the service of illustrating alternate histories of attachment and desire. Campbell maintains an active exhibition record including recent solo exhibits at Tractionarts in LA, and the Window Into Houston at the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, Texas, as well as group exhibits at Seoul National University of Science and Technology in South Korea, Queens College Art Center in New York, and the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. She earned a BA in Studio Art from the College of Wooster and an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During a recent sabbatical, Campbell set up studio in Brooklyn and Paris. She teaches sculpture, installation and curation as Associate Professor in the Art & Design Department at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. She also served as Visiting Associate Professor/ Artist in Residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during the 2013-2014 academic year, teaching courses on feminist and queer art practices, publics and projection, and curation. She currently lives and works between Madison, Wisconsin and New York City.