Marlborough Chelsea is proud to present Comic Books, Inverted Stamps, Paranoid Literature, a new project by Drew Heitzler. Comprising 37 works on paper and a new film, the exhibition continues Heitzler’s excavation of history through a re-appropriation and re-interpretation of the past that finds, event by event, full circle connections between seemingly disparate sources.
Computer generated prints of web-sourced images of valuable comic book covers, rare stamps and first-edition dust jackets have been exposed to haphazard sprays of water. In the collecting of works on paper, the worth of the mechanically reproduced objects is determined by rarity and condition. Rarity is the given, determined by limited runs, production mistakes, and material fragility coupled with the original marginal status. Condition is the variable. Tears, stains, or water damage can make a priceless paper collectible worthless.
Heitzler has inverted this equation. Here, water damage creates individuation, literally blurring the line between the unique, the edition, and the unique edition. The damage becomes analogous to painting with watercolors, minus the romanticism of the artist’s touch. Once the image is selected, it is the machine and gravity that make all the decisions.
Heitzler’s 16mm film, When the Levee Breaks, shows Art Clokey’s beloved Claymation creation Gumby re-edited to play the song of the same title on a tiny piano. Originally recorded by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie in 1927, the song was covered in 1971 by Led Zeppelin and in 1986 was sampled for the Beastie Boys’ Rhymin’ and Stealin’. For the soundtrack, Heitzler continues the extended repurposing of this melody by recording a piano version played from a book of Led Zeppelin sheet music.
With this work Heitzler also reinforces his ongoing investigation into the Hollywood movie industry, especially its more adventurous and marginal offshoots. Clokey developed Gumby in the 1950s wile studying Kinesthetic Film Principles under the Serbian avant- garde filmmaker Slavko Vorkapic at The University of Southern California. More recently, another well-known Los Angeles artist Raymond Pettibon has appropriated Gumby as a recurring character in his drawings. The fact that Pettibon began his career making inexpensive ‘zines which are now tremendously valuable, begins to neatly tie Heitlzer’s film and watercolors together into a free-associative meditation on the intersections of cultural history, art, and the economics of the low-brow.
Drew Heitzler was born in 1972 in Charleston, South Carolina and now lives and works in Los Angeles. Selected solo exhibitions include Green Gallery in Milwaukee; Blum and Poe, Los Angeles; Renwick Gallery, New York; LAXArt, Los Angeles; and MoMA PS1, New York. He has participated in group exhibitions internationally including Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Vigo, Pontevedra, Spain; Kunsthalle Zurich; Galerie Lange + Pult, Zurich; “Greater L.A.” (curated by Benjamin Godsill), New York; “The Artist as Collector” (curated by Olivier Mosset), Museum of Contemporary Art, Tuscon, AZ; “Made in Tucson, Born in Tucson, Live in Tucson” (curated by Olivier Mosset) at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson, AZ; Galerie Vidal Cuglietta, Brussels; “Amy Granat, Drew Heitzler, Olivier Mosset” at The Suburban, Oak Park, IL; “Bendover/Hangover” White Flag Projects, St. Louis, MO; Pepin Moore, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; and Anthology Film Archives, New York. He was included in the 2012 Venice Beach Biennial, Los Angeles (curated by Ali Subotnik); The California Biennial (2010) curated by Sarah Bancroft; the Whitney Biennial (2008), New York.