The Rust Room
April 29 – May 25, 2014
Artist’s Reception Tuesday, April 29
Undercurrent Projects is pleased to present HEIDE HATRY’s Rust Room.
Beginning with her Skin series and ending with a centerpiece Rust Room, this exhibition will feature a disquieting and unsettling site-specific environment, as well as an abridged survey of past works examining life, death, entropy and decay. Here there is a sense of danger, a taste of metal on the tongue, and the iron smells like blood.
Hatry’s performances and artworks, often body-related or employing animal flesh and organs, have aroused controversy and have been considered horrific, repulsive or sensationalist by some, while others have hailed her as an “imaginative provocateur.” Her work also addresses ideas about beauty, feminist ideologies and issues of identity, and she has created works under a ruse of pseudonymous attributions.
Hatry’s new Rust Room installation sisters her 2006 Skin Room, when as a performance she flayed pig carcasses to construct a chamber of visceral membrane. In the current exhibition, she rusts the white box of the gallery to create an enclosed cell of post-industrial and cultural corrosion.
In her 2005 Skin series Hatry primarily worked with fresh untreated pigskin, which is uncannily human-like. The work reminds us that while we are surrounded by flesh in our daily lives, we do not continually register that our leather jacket or stylish shoes are made from dead animal skin.
In addition to documenting several years of working with a highly eccentric material, Hatry’s hardcover SKIN book (Kehrer, Heidelberg, 2005) is a complex conceptual artwork in itself, in which Hatry plays on the fact that skin is the medium through which individual identity is most commonly received. It fictitiously profiles seven female artists all working with skin as a medium, but, in fact, they are seven facets of Hatry herself, posed in disguise, and each with their own complete body of work.
The haunting portraits in Hatry’s Heads and Tales series are actually photographs of perishable mannequin sculptures made from pigskin, including raw meat for the lips and fresh pig eyes. The resulting expressions create the illusion of life where there is none.
Her tandem Heads and Tales book (Charta, Milan/New York, 2009) is a collaborative endeavor between Hatry and twenty-seven noted female authors whom she invited to create “lives” and tell the invented stories behind the faces.
The “beautiful” and exotic flowers depicted in Hatry’s 2012 Not a Rose series are photographs of sculptures composed mainly out of offal, sex organs and other animal parts and staged in natural outdoor environments.
The companion Not a Rose book (Charta, 2013) explores the relationship of flowers and animals to human beings. Masked as a traditional coffee table book, it quotes from the genre while turning it inside out, “subtly undermining our notion of beauty,” and challenging our use and abuse of animals and nature. For the book one hundred prominent intellectuals, writers, and artists were invited to respond to “the question of the flower” from a multiplicity of perspectives, including anthropology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, philology, botany, neuroscience, art history, gender studies, physics, and chemistry.
The exhibition will include videos relating to each of Hatry’s previous projects as well as original art works providing a condensed overview of her work that pushes the boundaries of aesthetics, social responsibility and the complacency of art.
New York based Heide Hatry grew up on a pig farm in the south of Germany. After leaving home early to attend a sports school to be a gymnast, Hatry studied art at various German art schools and art history at the University of Heidelberg. She taught at a private art school for many years while simultaneously conducting an international business as an antiquarian bookseller in Heidelberg. In 2003 she moved to NYC and began her career as an artist. Hatry’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide, most recently with a solo show at Stux gallery in New York.
Hatry has frequently served as a curator in the United States, Germany and Spain. These exhibitions have included work by Carolee Schneemann, Tania Bruguera, Jana Sterbak, Zhang Huang, Kate Millett, Theresa Byrnes, Regina Jose Galindo, Larry Miller, Pat Steir, Richard Human, Dove Bradshaw, Chrissy Conant, Peter Downsbrough, Max Gimblett, Chie Hasegawa, Kahn & Selesnick, Annette Lemieux, Aldo Tambellini, and many others.
Over the years, Hatry has also created unique artist’s books, treating texts by Paul Celan, Frederic Tuten, Friedrich Hölderlin, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, John Keats, Samuel Beckett, Walter Abish, Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Wright, Robert Kelly, and David Sedaris, among others. They are held in numerous private and public collections.