Vitrine is delighted to present the first London solo exhibition of internationally esteemed artist Mx Justin Vivian Bond. The exhibition will draw on Mx Bond’s award-winning practice as writer, singer, painter and performance artist. Creating a performative exhibition space, the gallery will at once reflect the captivating and inspirational writings of this groundbreaking artist whilst containing a body of new and existing video, performance, text, print, sculptural and watercolour works in one installation.
At the heart of the exhibition is a collection of watercolour paintings: a series of Diptychs consisting of portraits of model Karen Graham and Mx Bond. Karen Graham was the face of Estée Lauder Cosmetics from 1970-1985. Juxtaposed with self-portraits of Mx Bond these watercolours reflect and enhance the obsessive nature of the relationship, which developed during v’s adolescence, with the model who v describes “as blank and perfect as the sphinx - only more modern and wearing LOTS of make-up”.
With these images of Karen Graham and throughout the exhibition Mx Bond explores the gateway to self- determination “presented by a subjective association with an external image which allowed me to aspire to internally create an image of myself and for myself where I was able to live in a private state of grace.”
The title of the show “My Model / MySelf” references the pop-psychology book “My Mother MySelf: The Daughter’s Search for Identity” which was originally published in 1977 by feminist author Nancy Friday. Drawing parallels between this book and the difficulties inherent in the search of the “transchild” to find suitable role models within a traditional familial structure “My Model /MySelf” becomes about a journey to escape traditional gender roles through a capitalist phantasm of self-creation as a survival mechanism.
The signifiers of these phantasms are reflected throughout the exhibition by commercially produced, limited edition wallpapers (in collaboration with wallpaper designer George Venson of Voutsa), posters (which include re-contexutalized images of “tear-outs” of photographs of Karen Graham taken by Viktor Skebneski for Estée Lauder ads) , and sculptural installations including “My Model / MySelf” paperback books. These posters, wallpapers and books create a space for contemplation, expectation, and a possibility for the public fulfillment of privately conceived potentialities.
Throughout the length of the Private View Mx Bond will occasionally appear in performance as the gallery window is transformed into a public/private space with a “step and repeat” made of customised artist wallpaper and set with a red carpet and velvet rope. The artist instructs that this space is only to be occupied by Justin Vivian Bond or Karen Graham.
My Model / MySelf is at once autobiographical and reflective of the capitalist impulse to seek validation through identification with external stimulus due to the failure of traditionally binaristic social and familial structures to recognize the realities of complex personal multiplicities. Then again, maybe it’s simply a search for peace.
Mx Justin Vivian Bond (born May 9, 1963) is an American writer, singer, performance artist and painter, described as a “fixture of the New York avant-garde”. Solo exhibitions include ‘Gold Mesh Cross-Body Bag’ Art Market, Provincetown, US (2014) and ‘The Fall of the House of Whimsy’, Participant Inc, New York, US (2011). V is author of the Lambda Literary Award winning memoir TANGO: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels (The Feminist Press) and Susie Says… a collaboration with Gina Garan (Powerhouse Books, 2012). V’s debut CD DENDRPOPHILE was self-released on WhimsyMusic in 2011 and was followed by SILVER WELLS in 2012. Coming to prominence playing the role of Kiki DuRayne in the drag cabaret act Kiki and Herb from the early 1990s through to 2008 and since establishing a prominent solo career, Bond has received numerous accolades for performing; winning Obie (2001), Bessie (2004), The Ethyl Eichelberger (2007) awards, while also earning The Peter Reed Foundation Grant and a 2007 Tony nomination. V has performed on stages including: London’s Soho Theatre and Queen Elizabeth Hall and New York’s The Knitting Factory and Carnegie Hall, as well as a host of other venues worldwide. Other notable theatrical endeavours include starring as Warhol Superstar Jackie Curtis in Scott Wittman’s production of Jukebox Jackie: Snatches of Jackie Curtis as part of La Mama E.T.C.’s 50 Anniversary Season, originating the role of Herculine Barbin in Kate Bornstein’s groundbreaking play Hidden: A Gender, touring with the performance troupe The Big Art Group and appearing in John Cameron Mitchell’s film Shortbus. Other films include Sunset Stories (2012), Imaginary Heroes (2004), and Fanci’s Persuasion (1995).