Shulamit Nazarian is pleased to present Los Angeles-based artist Cammie Staros’ first exhibition with the gallery, les vases communicants. The exhibition’s title references surrealist André Breton’s 1932 essay by the same name, which in turn borrows it from the scientific principle of “communicating vessels.” Looking specifically to the shapely vessels of Classical Greece, the artist’s hand-built objects marry ancient ceramic techniques with modern industrial materials such as neon, machined metals, and moving blankets. The resulting sculptures are rooted in history, yet disarmingly present.
For les vases communicants, Staros mines images and artifacts from the Greco-Roman period that aestheticizes eroticism, violence, and victory. Drawing distinct parallels between bygone civilizations and our own, allusions to bondage, sadomasochism, and other forms of contemporary fetish emerge to underscore the violence and sexual experimentation of societies past and present. Additionally, the artist anthropomorphizes her sculptures through references to armor and dress—often a gendered divide—as traditionally depicted on Greek figure vases. At times, her vessels allude to the historical depiction of severed heads, using the myth of Medusa as a point of departure to address the terror of female sexuality as it is represented throughout art history.
Staros’ fascination with classical antiquities lies both in the charge of the objects themselves, and with how those objects have come to represent an origin story of Western art history. Her works remind us that historical narratives are told through visual languages as much as written ones. Staros contributes her own symbology to a constellation of references from far-flung regions and eras, and entices her audiences to reexamine the role of historical objects.
Presented alongside Staros’ sculptures is an artist-curated selection of works by Whitney Hubbs, David Korty, Matt Lipps, Fay Ray, and Sara VanDerBeek. Referencing a museological strategy of informing viewers about the practice of the artist through the context of her contemporaries, Staros has selected specific works that consider the representation of desire, violence, gender codes, and institutional tropes of display, all embedded in the materials and images of antiquity.
Cammie Staros (b. 1983, Nashville, TN) received her BA from Brown, Providence, in 2006 and her MFA from California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles, in 2011. Staros has had solo exhibitions at Lefebvre & Fils, Paris (2017), and Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles (2015). Shulamit Nazarian will present a solo booth by the artist at The Armory Show, New York (2018).