Offal | EasT

Solo Exhibition by Arden Surdam

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Press Release

ABXY presents:

Solo Exhibition by ARDEN SURDAM
OPENING: SATURDAY, JULY 27, 2019 | 6 – 9 PM
LOCATION: HAVEN MONTAUK | 533 West Lake Drive | Montauk, NY 11954 | @abxyles | | Artsy

(Montauk, NY) ABXY is pleased to announce the opening of Offal | East. This summer the Lower East Side gallery will bring a selection of works by Los Angeles-based artist Arden Surdam to the Hamptons. Opening Saturday, July 27 at Haven Montauk, the works in Offal | East invite us to consider the gendered, classified, racially dissonant narratives responsible for our own postcolonial notions of “good” taste (both aesthetic and culinary). The exhibition will remain on view at the beachside hotel through Labor Day, 2019.

Offal | East is presented in conjunction with the artist’s Manhattan solo show (on view at ABXY’s NYC location through September 15, 2019).

“Offal” denotes the entrails or internal organs of a recently slaughtered animal, intended for food. In her images, Surdam stages raw ingredients like liver, fish, and dead birds in scenes which recall the still life paintings of canonical masters like Chardin, Soutine, and Bacon. While set against elegant fabric backdrops within the glorified compositions of traditional genre paintings - here, food matter appears alongside burning etiquette books and sex-toys in disguise. By confounding our expectations of this historical art form, Surdam’s still lifes playfully tempt and offend our appetites, exposing tropes deeply embedded in our concepts of class and cuisine.

The artist frequently interjects pages torn from vintage American cookbooks into her gravity defying table-scapes, posing the active decay of organic matter in conversation with the saccharine vernacular of conventional gastro-pop-culture. By juxtaposing the grotesque realities of the kitchen with these tidy representations of meal prep, Surdam speaks to the ever growing physical and intellectual distance between earth and our dinner plates, farm and table, reality and illusion today.

Exhibition Essay by Dr. Leonard Folgarait with words from W.M. Hunt & Efrem Zelony-Mindell

Images courtesy of Erik Bardin

View Exhibition on Artsy

Artist’s Statement

“My studio practice employs photographic methods to activate food matter. This occurs in multiple forms including social practice events, sculptural installations, and still life photography. My interest in food lies in its ability to be engaged as a social sculpture as well as a medium for sensory experiences. Moreover, I am fascinated by food's capacity to connote class, art history, and tradition. My most recent work for my 2019 exhibitions has been specifically focused on offal –the entrails or internal organs of newly slaughtered animals. I am interested in the historical use of these foods, most determinedly their cultural patterning and consumption by the lower class. The variable value of food by society, –an animal part considered precious in one century and collectively repugnant in another, is a fluctuating system of likes and dislikes that has become a focal point of my current practice. 

In my latest works, I have inserted food matter like liver, ray fish, oysters, and pig intestines into traditional still lifes. This gesture, inspired by the canonical images of Soutine, Bacon, and Chardin, is intended to visually signify the tension between delectability and repulsion. In addition to food materials, the still lifes feature photographs taken from the pages of American 1970s international cuisine cookbooks, which present visual directions on how to cook “sophisticated” intercontinental meals. By re-photographing these images, my desire is to challenge the intentionality of ‘food worldliness’, questioning traditional notions of value through ideas of food loathing (elementary and archaic forms of abjection) and food worshipping.”

- Arden Surdam, 2019