The 2008 crisis happened under Bush but was exasperated by the Obama era policies, which never got properly critiqued by the left or mainstream. We're still dealing with the fallout. A generation of indebtedness, and sliding backward. Black Lives Matter, Defund the Police, Housing Justice, Climate Change, all of these huge movements are going to probably evaporate or dwindle when/if Biden wins. The challenge is not forgetting and keeping it up when/if Trump loses. The message of The Good Crisis is more important today, as history repeats itself. – DIS, November 2020
With democracy at a precipice, the moderation of a Joe Biden seems like a revolutionary change. It’s not, and it’s essential never to be satisfied with what seems attainable. But the way our political system works is that at a certain point, there become two choices, and not seeing yourself reflected is no excuse not to participate -- it’s the reason to keep fighting the next day – Jonathan Horowitz, November 2020
DIS / Jonathan Horowitz is a joint exhibition presented by Sadie Coles HQ and Project Native Informant (both London). Presented in dialogue, the works on view by American artists Jonathan Horowitz and the New York-based collective DIS employ a range of different media to inhabit pre-existing imagery drawn from contemporary culture. Addressing the complexities of both personal and social politics, the art of DIS and Horowitz draws upon sources ranging from that of mass-media, to the canon of art history. Presented during the aftermath of the United States Presidential Election of 2020, the social commentary implicit within the works gains ever more poignancy set against the tensions of the period.
New York-based collective DIS--consisting of David Toro, Lauren Boyle, Marco Roso and Solomon Chase— present in the main space A Good Crisis (2019) and a new photograph. Mimicking the format of a Public Service Announcement (PSA), A Good Crisis features the Night King from HBO’s Game of Thrones discussing the missed opportunity for economic revolution following the mid-2000s global financial crisis. He explains how financiers and CEOs now revel in the feudal frenzy of the “new rentership society,” a term propagated by private equity firms to explain the economic shift that has seen the renter population of the United States soar in the aftermath of the 2008 housing crash. The Night King both marks the recent past and forebodes a possible future, a ghostly premonition. A Good Crisis is part of a part of a trilogy of PSAs questioning historical, current and future complexities of our contemporary condition. Presented alongside A Good Crisis in the corridor are a selection of DISimages: manipulating the codes, trends and format of stock photography, DISimages showcases alternative scenarios and new stereotypes, broadening the spectrum of lifestyle portrayal. Aligned to the collectives video practice, these photographs work to render the present through subversive iconography.
Alongside these works are three of Jonathan Horowitz’s glitter, rainbow Flag paintings from a long running series, beginning in 2005. Each painting is based on one of Jasper Johns’ iconic, American flag paintings and is rendered using the signature, glitter application process of Horowitz’s boyfriend, Rob Pruitt. “[T]he artist’s boyfriend” referenced in the titles can be seen as both Horowitz’s boyfriend, or Robert Rauschenberg, Johns’ boyfriend, thus alluding to Johns and Rauschenberg’s hidden, romantic relationship.
At the centre of the room, Double Rainbow Flag for Jasper in the Style of the Artists Boyfriend, 2013, is composed of horizontal bands arranged chromatically in representation of the rainbow Pride flag of the LGBT movement. Doubling the flag Horowitz creates a dissolution of the symbol, in a formal cycling of the spectrum. But while Johns’ formalist reproductions divest the flags of meaning and symbolism, Horowitz’s minimal composition is refracted with the charged potency of personal politics; paying homage to Johns’ relationship with Robert, and Jonathan’s relationship to Rob.
The motif of the rainbow American flag is reprised in two recent monochromatic iterations. Moratorium (Gold Rainbow American Flag for Jasper in the Style of the Artist’s Boyfriend), 2017, is made using gold, holographic glitter and references the 1969 print of the same title made by Johns in protests of the Vietnam war. In Horowitz’s version, the word stencilled beneath the gold, neutralized colours of the flag, signals a new sense of crisis at the election of Donald Trump and capitalism’s threat to democracy.
For Leftover Glitter Abstraction (Two Rainbow American Flags for Jasper in the Style of the Artist’s Boyfriend), 2018, Horowitz mixes together all of the different colours of glitter leftover from his studio, to create a dark, glittery bog. Implied is an ever-more sinister sentiment toward nationalism and its signification today. Across the two monochromatic paintings, a sumptuous veneer evokes the aesthetic of opulent excess that has come to be associated with Donald Trump and like authoritarian figures. And yet, hidden within the gold and brownish fields, flecks of colour subtly refract the surfaces with an alternative vision.
With his Flag paintings, Horowitz inhabits the works of other artists – Johns and Pruitt -- mining their practices for currencies of cultural and personal meaning. This is the first time that multiple, Horowitz’s Flag paintings have been exhibited together, revealing the narrative and aesthetic breadth of Horowitz’s project.
Set in juxtaposition, the works of Horowitz and DIS present critical perspectives on codes and structures of Western culture and politics. By infiltrating and recasting entrenched, societal narratives, the works serve to destabilize value systems of dominant culture.
DIS (initiated in 2010) is a New York-based collective consisting of David Toro, Lauren Boyle, Marco Roso and Solomon Chase. Major solo exhibitions and projects include A Good Crisis, Project Native Informant, London (2019); A Good Crisis, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore (2018); Thumbs that Type and Swipe: The DISEdutainment Network, Casa Encendida, Madrid (2018), Genre-Nonconforming: The DISEdutainment Network, DeYoung Museum, San Francisco (2017); Image Life, Project Native Informant, London (2016), DISown. Not for Everyone, Red Bull Arts, New York (2014); DisImages Studio, The Suzanne Geiss Company, New York (2013); Fair Trade, Frieze Projects/Frieze Art Foundation, London (2012). DIS' curated projects include the Berlin Biennale in 2016 and the upcoming Biennial of Moving Image in Geneva in 2021. The collective will have a major solo show at Secession, Vienna in 2022.
Jonathan Horowitz (b. New York, 1966) has exhibited work internationally since the early nineties. Major solo exhibitions and projects include Pre-Fall ’17, Sadie Coles HQ, London (2019); 1612 Dots, the Oculus, World Trade Center, New York (2017); Occupy Greenwich, The Brant Foundation Art Study Centre, Greenwich, CT (2016); projects at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit and the Swiss Institute / Contemporary Art, New York (2016); Your Land/My Land: Election ’12, staged concurrently at seven museums across the US (from the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles to the New Museum, New York, 2012); Secret Life, with Elizabeth Peyton, Sadie Coles HQ, London (2012); minimalist works from the holocaust museum, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee (2010-11); Apocalypto Now, Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2009); and the retrospective exhibition, Jonathan Horowitz: And/Or, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2009). We Fight to Build a Free World: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz, a major project organised and curated by the artist is currently on view at The Jewish Museum, New York. Horowitz lives and works in New York.