In works that encompass drawing, sculpture, video, and installation, Los Angeles–based artist Kaari Upson (b. 1972, San Bernardino, CA) tracks circuitous narratives that weave together elements of fantasy, physical and psychological trauma, and the often-fraught pursuit of an American ideal. Her objects give form to the collective desires, neuroses, and vulnerabilities that haunt the subconscious of popular culture. This presentation, the first New York museum exhibition of Upson’s work, brings together a selection of recent projects by the artist, which interconnect in a web of phantasmagoric images, ideas, and associations.
For over a decade, Upson’s projects have taken a near-forensic approach, drawing inspiration from abandoned archives to uncover a body of projected histories, images, and artifacts. For her series MMDP (My Mother Drinks Pepsi) (2014–ongoing), the artist investigates the interdependent relationship between herself and her mother. Comprising sculptures of fossil-like, aluminum-casted Pepsi cans, videos filmed among the aisles of Costco, and over one hundred stuffed dolls dressed in the artist’s mother’s everyday outfit, MMDP explores the desire for consumption as it is trapped in cycles of mass production. Alongside this series, the exhibition debuts a new body of work that centers around a family living in a tract house in Las Vegas. Incorporating drawings, a video (“In Search of the Perfect Double” ), and cast sculptures including a hearth—the traditional focal point of the American home—Upson explores the unnerving similarities and slight incongruities evident among these bulk-manufactured dwelling spaces on subdivided land.
In her intricate drawings, corporeal domestic sculptures, and meandrous videos, Upson navigates a hall of mirrors found within the vessel of our homes, revealing that private and public, inside and outside, self and other are fluid concepts, with the potential of becoming one and the same. The title of the exhibition alludes to the reality that none of us is actually born alone—we cannot help but reflect our entrenched histories, both inherited and experienced.
“Kaari Upson: Good thing you are not alone” is curated by Margot Norton, Associate Curator, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated publication.
Kaari Upson was born in 1972 in San Bernardino, California, and lives and works in Los Angeles. Her works have recently been included in the group exhibitions “Adhesive Products,” Bergen Kunsthall (2016); “The Los Angeles Project,” Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2016); “Sleepless: The Bed in History and Contemporary Art,” 21er Haus, Vienna (2015); “No Man’s Land: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection,” Miami (2015); “Test Pattern,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2013); and “The Residue of Memory,” Aspen Art Museum (2012).