315 Gallery is pleased to present You Want it Darker, a two-person exhibition featuring new works by New York-based artists Caitlin MacBride and Michael Blake.
MacBride’s paintings and Blake’s sculptures draw on the artists’ personal investigations into identity and their exploration of the relationship between objects and the body to query issues of desire, otherness, and control.
Blake’s floor-based and suspended works repurpose industrial materials to create what he calls “manufactured sex object sculptures,” which blur distinctions between the public and the private, the synthetic and the corporeal, the functional and the erotic, the debased and the venerated. Combining steel plumbing and foam tubing—materials that are, respectively, hard and penetrable, stiff and soft—Blake’s floor-based sculptures reference the body and its organs. In their placement relative to one another, the work suggests spaces that bodies can occupy through both constriction and control. Tension electrifies the work, as Blake evokes fetish, desire, and intimacy through objects that have been mass-produced by unknown hands. Nodding to homoeroticism through cruising and gym culture with readymade materials that are at once delicate and functional, Blake investigates how meaning is encoded, and how slippery ascribed identities truly are.
MacBride’s paintings feature furniture and objects from the Shakers—a Christian sect that believes in celibacy, equality among its members, and approaching God through labor and craftsmanship, and to which MacBride was drawn as a way of investigating of her own New England heritage. MacBride has chosen objects that implicitly reflect the Shaker denial of the flesh—the furniture and loom on which they focused their labor, in the service of worship—to explore how we encounter objects beyond our bodies. MacBride’s artistic practice is based on the extended, meticulous, and careful examination of the forms she represents. She calls painting a “means of discovery,” and considers its inextricable connection to desire and longing to imbue it with erotic meaning. Through the studied scrutiny of furniture and tools that once had utility—but have since been elevated to the status of historic, even artistic, relics—MacBride aims to break through the “otherness” of the object to forge a bond and kinship with something outside the self. Her works force viewers to consider: If we can empathize or feel affinity for something as inhuman as object, then why not another person, different though they may be?
You Want it Darker shifts our understanding of the body, exploring its relationship to the forms that shape, restrict, and pleasure it.
Caitlin MacBride (b. 1983 Norwich, CT) lives and works in New York. She received her MFA in painting at Bard College and holds a BFA from RISD. MacBride has had solo shows at Chapter NY, Real Fine Arts, and GRIN and appeared in group shows at Greene Naftali, Zach Feuer, 315 Gallery, Neiman Gallery, and 247365. Her work has been written about in Modern Painters, Art Forum, Dis Magazine, New York Magazine, and Vogue.com. She has done residencies at the Salzburg Summer Akademy, Lighthouse Works, and the Offshore Residency.
Michael Blake (b. 1990 Los Angeles, CA) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He received his BA from California State University Northridge, CA and MFA from Hunter College, New York, NY. Blake’s sculptures explore both formal and autobiographical themes, often related to desire, sexuality, and the relationship between public and private space. Recent group and two person exhibitions include I’d Rather Be Here Than Almighty at 315 Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; group exhibition at 67, New York, NY; The Can Gallery, New York, NY and Untitled/Everyone All At Once Together at Ashes/Ashes, Los Angeles, CA.