Elizabeth Alexander; 1 o’clock… 2 o’clock… 3 o’clock… 4 (detail); Wallpaper positives and negatives, Tyvek, cast paper, wood, paint, acrylic, adhesive; Dimensions tbd; 2019

The Great Enemy of Truth by Elizabeth Alexander with sound by Todd Bowser

The following information about this past Turchin Center exhibition is kept here for archival purposes only. This exhibition is not currently on display. View current and upcoming exhibitions.

Friday, January 11, 2019
Friday, April 5, 2019 (6:00pm - 10:00pm)
Saturday, June 1, 2019
Main Gallery

The Great Enemy of Truth is a site-specific installation by Elizabeth Alexander with an integral sound component by Todd Bowser. The artists will transform the Main Gallery through intricate paper installations, suspended sculpture, found objects, costumes, dinner plates and sound for an immersive experience that the artist says: "seems double-edged, a dreamlike scenario that is both familiar and foreign--inspiring frequent shifts in mood."

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Elizabeth Alexander; Crumbs Under My Pillow (detail); Hand cut vintage wallpaper, Tyvek, glue, vinyl flooring, chair, wood; 120” x 120” x 120”; 2018

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Elizabeth Alexander; Wrought II (detail); Wallpaper, 2x4s, drywall, joint compound, roofing-tar, insulation foam, and other media; 48” x 120” x 36”; 2014

Artists’ statements

The Great Enemy of Truth

The Great Enemy of Truth comes from a speech made at Yale University by John F. Kennedy who famously said: “for the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.” This illuminating statement was made in 1962, yet feels like an accurate portrait of our current era of fake news, tribal politics and emotional baiting at the forefront of contemporary culture and decision making. 

Channeling neurosis and anxiety into busywork, menial tasks, and fussing over trivial duties, I pacify doubt with reverie.  Through labored processes separating decorative print from found objects or casting replicas of household items in paper, I unearth elements of human behavior and emotion through manipulations of the stuff of our past.  A soundtrack of current events that both repulse and rivet my attention has become ingrained in the hours logged in my studio. My process has become a coping mechanism to distract from my frustration, confusion, and discomfort, while also mirroring the cultural tendency to carry on and numb or ignore unsavory realities through mundane tasks and daily rituals.

Trifling with relics of the American Dream I upend antiquated ideals and promises through an endless process of deconstruction and reconstruction, counterfeits and edits.  I face my own dreams, delusions and desires while scrutinizing impositions on such aspirations through media, advertising and cultural nostalgia. I witness spectacles of ideal American home life and my view is clouded by restrictions, walls, regrets, contingencies, impossible feats and contradiction. Appropriating once coveted domestic symbols of beautification and success such as wallpaper, upholstered furniture and porcelain ware, I survey the cost and absurdity of social climbing through material veils. Careful extraction of every adornment neutralizes the distinctive qualities of the selected materials I engage with.  These altered objects and manufactured spaces seem double edged; dreamlike scenarios that are both familiar and foreign with a frequent shift in mood, a neutered utility, a composite make up, or a hidden hollowness.

— Elizabeth Alexander
Installation

Remembrance of Things Misunderstood and/or Non-Existent

Replacing the community, imaginary connections form through collections of disposable fetish objects— devices that offer something like dreams, but serve to supplant memory and wonder. The feeding of this addiction drives a trash economy. A raft of worn, stained, and matted emblems will eventually choke the gills of the organism that spawned it and provides the means for survival. This parentless modern phenomenon disarms the resourcefulness rooted in our primitive selves.

Motions recorded from wired sense-devices mesh with archival sound to reflect a turn from intellectual processes and the collection/preservation of the actual [history, science, facts] to the anecdotal, allegorical, and emotional—dulling the empathetic sense, but through protection of the means of satisfying this imposed desire, preserving those emotions most base and primitive: hate, reaction, and violence.

— Todd Evan Bowser
Sound installation

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Elizabeth Alexander; Let Him Speak First Wallpaper positives (detail); Wallpaper, adhesive, wood; 96” x 100” x 60”; 2018

About the artists

Elizabeth Alexander is an interdisciplinary artist who specializes in sculptures and installations made from paper and found objects. She holds degrees in sculpture from Cranbrook Academy (MFA), and the Massachusetts College of Art (BFA). Alexander has received fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the St. Botolph Foundation, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and, was awarded the title “Best Artist of Boston” in 2014 by Improper Bostonian magazine. Her work has been highlighted and reviewed in publications such as Hyperallergic, Sculpture Magazine, School Arts Magazine, Boston Magazine, The Boston Globe, Art New England, The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research, Santa Barbara News-Press, The Detroit Free Press, New Glass Review, Open Letters Monthly, and Berkshire Fine Arts. Alexander frequently exhibits in museums and galleries across the U.S. In the fall of 2014 her work was chosen for State of the Art an exclusive survey of emerging American art by the curators from the Crystal Bridges Museum, followed by museums in Tennessee, Minnesota, Georgia, and North Carolina. Her work is part of private collections across the United States including the contemporary craft collection at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC. Alexander is currently an Assistant Professor at the UNC School of the Arts. elizabethalexanderstudio.com.

Todd Bowser is a Librarian, Sonic Atmosphere Maker, Ill-Tempered Pacifist, Future-Primitivist, and Bassist living and working in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He primarily collaborates with Elizabeth Alexander.

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