DOUBLE TROUBLE: NEON FRIENDSHIPS
“Before I began research for this book I was not consciously aware that women were aggressive in indirect ways, that they gossiped and ostracized each other incessantly, and did not acknowledge their own envious and competitive feelings. I now understand that, in order to survive as a woman, among women, one must speak carefully, cautiously, neutrally, indirectly; one must pay careful attention to what more socially powerful women have to say before one speaks; one must learn how to flatter, manipulate, agree with, and appease them. And, if one is hurt or offended by another woman, one does not say so outright; one expresses it indirectly, by turning others against her.
Friendship has changed astronomically since the advent and frequent use of social media. A simple “like” here and passive aggressive facebook comment there can make or break digital-faux-friendships. Exploring the idea of friendship has recently hit home for me personally especially in regards to female relationships. A book I read a while back titled Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman by Phyllis Chesler explores the often-toxic nature of feminine relationships from that of a mother and her daughter to co-workers. Something I still struggle with today is the complexities and difficulty of maintaining friendships with other women especially women closer to my age. Some of my female friends in the past were emotionally immature, insecure, irrational, lazy and horrible communicators. As a result most of my close friends were male or with significant cultural disparities like myself. Gender aside when I do witness unadulterated friendship I reconsider my role in my past and present relationships with others.
Double Trouble: Marion Lane and Rochelle Botello is a collaborative and platonic fusion between painting and sculpture. Marion Lane (painter) and Rochelle Botello (sculpture) first met a year ago. Since meeting, over the past year they shared a studio space that acted as a catalyst for them to be engrossed in constant conversation about their individual work. This organic aftermath is this fascinating and sometimes unbelievable two-person show currently up at Coagula Curatorial in Chinatown.
The unbelievable part for me is the fact that two women, in the Los Angeles art world, came together to benefit one another through untainted collaboration. I myself have collaborated only with males and continue to seek out collaboration with my fellow male artists precisely for the reasons explored in Chesler’s book. In grad school a fellow grad student (sculptor, we’ll call her Tiffany) made the class stand around for 30 minutes in her studio to critique something that was obviously not finished and done in a procrastinating haste. When I was probed to speak during the crit I stated honestly the “work” we were looking at was completely uninteresting to me. Those were my exact words. Subjective. It was pretentiously titled “Untitled” and had nothing to go on past that fact. We didn’t know what it was or what it was trying to be; the piece was deaf, dumb and mute. I couldn’t articulate anything further, lacking conversation about the work, eventually we moved on. Days later I was told by another grad student that Tiffany was enraged and accused me of personally “hating” her. Of course I didn’t know her and neither of us made any substantial attempts at getting to know one another so burning the calories required to actively hate someone was not on my agenda. This is but one example; I’ve tried working with all-female-led groups before via student clubs and hanging exhibitions and for the most part the emotional outbursts and constant drama-dripping passive aggression prevented me from actually getting work done and progressing at all. I am obviously biased. I grew up with a single mother who acted the part of loving mother and straight-edged father. She never subscribed to the insidious games most women played with each other and so I was bred ignorant and intolerant to these Olympic-worthy games as well.
Then there’s the introvert in me that gets panic attacks at openings and consumes copious amounts of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It’s clear from work being made right now that there’s a refreshing paradigm shift taking place when it comes to definitions of friendship. A connection formed by intense and even obsessive interests, like art, can prove to be more incentive for genuine friendship despite gender.
I’ve never kept female friendships- as far back as preschool, my best friend has been male. For most of my life it’s been an interest thing- I’m an engineer, a geek, an introvert, somewhat socially awkward or shy. I don’t have interest in going shopping or chit-chatting about entertainment, or getting a pedicure or doing whatever girls do when they get together. Because I don’t have a high social need, I don’t make phone calls or “keep in touch” well enough to maintain the obligations of female friendships. Want to talk ideas, technology, complete a task or play a board game together, and pick up where we left off from whenever we last saw each other? I’m in- but this isn’t what women do, from what I can tell. -JB
Then you have the Los Angeles art scene, which is very gender-neutral when it comes to scandals, hurt feelings and neglected egos. Meeting both artists and seeing the work in the same space flabbergasted me. Eavesdropping on a few faux-hipsters that entered the gallery before the crowd arrived:
“Obviously she’s unable to decide whether she’s a sculptor or a painter but at least it all looks like a cohesive body of work” –Beer-T-Shirt-Faux-Hipster Dude-Face
That was the most fascinating part though, people walking in thinking it was a solo show and that one artist did all of the work. Botello’s sculptures are erratic yet precise. May the art gods be ever praised for bringing the neons! Botello uses bright duct tape and paper to form the contours of the paper sculptures underneath. There’s a subtle line too which carries you through each of the pieces and throws you onto the walls where you’ll see Lane’s paintings winking at you. The paintings themselves are sexy, with organic shapes lined with toxic color. The surface has a matte encaustic look but dull color juxtaposed with hot neons similar to Lynda Benglis’ Fling, Dribble and Drip 1970. Lane is a painter. She creates intricately poured acrylic paintings that are collaged together to create complex layered forms that are organic, playful and multifaceted. When you move around to see the paintings you’re thrust almost immediately back to Botello’s scuptures. Botello creates paper-collaged sculptures that are constructed and pieced together using unremarkable materials.
Fling, Dribble, and Drip | February 27, 1970 Life Magazine | 13 1/4 x 10 1/4 in. c © Courtesy the artist and Cheim & Read, New York
Marion Lane, I Am A Bird, 2014
The collaborative intuition seen in this show is pleasantly shocking to me; a genuine nod to authenticity. Are you going to see good painting? Damn good painting. The kind that stimulates physiological responses. This work resonates and lingers, coming up at odd moments and conversations days after seeing it. What I have been thinking about a lot more lately is how our definitions of friendship and expectations following have changed. We see so many different parts of people’s lives depending on the social circles in which we swim. You might only have access to someone’s digital self, that which you are allowed to see on social media. You might work with someone, go to school with them, participate in an exhibition with them, etc. When you throw a collective obsession in the mix honesty and intimacy is to be expected regardless of gender, devoid of societal norms. I would argue Chesler’s definition of a female relationship wouldn’t apply here, in the odd ecosystem that is the Studio.
THIS WORK REMINDS ME OF:
Images: Rouzanna Berberian and Internet Freebies
974 Chung King Rd,
Los Angeles, CA 90012
September 6 – 27, 2014