Best Minds Part 1
Jeremy Shaw
March 30 — May 5, 2007

Discussions about the work of Jeremy Shaw have typically focused upon the way the artist has successfully utilized techniques of conceptual art, experimental film, music videos, and reality TV to rework primary and produce secondary source materials derived from his own participation in specific manifestations of rave, skateboard and other youth subcultures in the context of Vancouver in the 90s. The current exhibition provides something like the beginnings (thus the title “Best Minds, Part One”) of a move away from any sort of generational specificity to a broader, conceptually messier investigation that encompasses an eclectic set of cultural referents that form part of a history of utopic cultural critique as it relates to and is ultimately absorbed by the culture industry.

Dan Graham’s narrative of collective ecstatic rituals in his iconic Rock My Religion is a reference that runs throughout this exhibition. In a series of silkscreen posters, degraded images of 70s psychedelia, time capsules, and crystal meth labs among other things are repeatedly juxtaposed against a set of slogans in which any expression of unified purpose is obscured by a poetic ambiguity. The precariousness of the medium along with its retro graphic aesthetic intensifies a sense of nostalgia for those failed social experiments that seemed to hold the last vestiges of any sort of real counterculture.

Also part of this exhibition is a re-edited version of the footage of straight-edge hardcore kids performing a violent and cathartic dance familiar to those who have attended performances of Shaw’s parallel music project Circlesquare. This edition is scored with an original composition by the artist, inspired by William Basinki’s Disintegration Loops, a series of recordings of disintegrating tape reels that quite literally document the death of analog technology: the death of one cultural product in favor of another. It is against this backdrop of an eerie and hypnotic choreography that an allusion to death is, moreover, appropriate to describe the kinds of transcendental experiences that are constantly being sought in the midst of so much anger, dissatisfaction, boredom, and despair.

Jeremy Shaw is based in Vancouver. He has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto; Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles; Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver; and Tracey Lawrence Gallery, Vancouver. He has participated in group exhibitions and screenings at Witte de With, Rotterdam; Lisson Gallery, London; Saidye Bronfman Centre For The Arts, Montreal; and Chisenhale Gallery, London. Forthcoming exhibitions include groups shows at the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; and Monitor, Rome. His band Circlesquare is currently completing a new album to be released in September 2007.

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