Show #51

Souls to Keep

Curated by Lissa Rivera (Museum of Sex curator)

Featuring: Panteha Abareshi, Mickey Aloisio, Amanda Calobrisi, Sedrick Chisom, Julia Dunham, Loren Erdrich, Ana Espinal, Jessica Harvey, Amy Johnquest, Danielle Lessnau, Kat Lyons, Michelle Mayer, Katie Morton, Hannah Murgatroyd, Alex O'Neal, Jennifer May Reiland, Shari Wilkins

Opening Reception: SATURDAY June 30th, 6-8 

Dates: June 28th- July 28th, 2018


I've been set free and I've been bound
To the memories of yesterday's clouds
I've been set free and I've been bound

And now I'm set free
I'm set free
I'm set free to find a new illusion

–L. Reed/The Velvet Underground


Our Souls to Keep explores the simultaneous permanence and impermanence of social rules in our current era. As power structures previously maintained in closely guarded realities become porous, attempts to impose borders and arcane laws become more absurd, and the hypocrisy of control mechanisms more pornographic. As physical communities are replaced by algorithm networks, we face a vastness of information, amplifying the potential for both freedom and destruction. The artists on view investigate undercurrents of social control from the perspective of their own lived experiences, representing both a keen awareness of repression and a sense of personal awakening.

Many of the artists in Our Souls to Keep employ vernacular languages and outmoded processes to express the historical absurdities of American mythology. It is a nostalgia that invokes a sense of comfort, but not without hinting that it is all just a cover up, exposing a store-bought version of gender, race, and sexuality past its expiration date. A growing cultural fascination with cults comes into play here; symbols of the ways that social relationships can seem to mold and change reality itself; of a kind of power that is particular and yet frighteningly familiar to those on the outside. The work reveals the corruption and hypocrisy behind systems of control without pretending that those systems are a mask that can be torn off. At the same time, the work assembled here is neither cynical nor defeatist; human bodies, beliefs, and the act of expression itself ground the work, whether in the texture of daily life or in flights of imagination, reminding us that liberation itself is a human goal, located in our bodies and communities, and freedom, too, must reflect human history in all its tragedy and confusion.

-Lissa Rivera