Crichoues Indignation: Caitlin Cherry @ The Hole, NYC
The Hole is pleased to present Crichoues Indignation, an exhibition of new works by Caitlin Cherry, on view through November 15th, 2020. Crichoues Indignation will feature a slate of new creations—working between painting, sculpture and installation—that expand on the themes and imagery laid out in Cherry’s online show Corps Sonore at Luis De Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles.
The exhibition’s title is drawn from a misspelled Kanye tweet, deriving from an online rant involving his wife, Kim Kardashian. The rapper’s misspelling of “righteous” melts into nonsense when abstracted from its original context, playing at the question of codes, text and syntax—but the discomfiting issues of gendered power and respectability politics remain palpably near to the surface, explored in more depth across Cherry’s new compositions.
Cherry’s paintings feature larger-than-life subjects in striking color: Black femme figures, familiar composites drawn from an image culture that thrives on appropriating these women’s likeness while rarely crediting their creativity. Sustaining her engagement with the subjects of the previous show, which depicted the women employed at a Brooklyn cabaret, Cherry now paints dancers, bartenders and Instagram models working at cabarets and as online influencers. Across her recent work, these women’s bodies are overlaid with cryptic alphanumeric symbols—kaleidoscopic incursions that refer back to the codes and algorithms that power our media landscape, fueling the algorithmic tools of Black culture’s dissemination and extraction.
They also play at themes of authenticity and authentication, gesturing towards the PIN numbers and digital locks that facilitate the online sale of artificially-editioned art. While the women on view would seem to bare it all, the invocation of cryptography suggests a layer of nuance and agency—a reproach to the traditional female nude figure who passively abides her own sexualization.
While researching these paintings, Cherry was led down Instagram wormholes and meandering paths of internet-fuelled interest, combing through feeds to source and digitally-alter subjects that she eventually assembles into her psychedelic compositions. Cherry’s colorful canvases are engaged in a kind of archival work: they highlight the dimensions of Black women’s representation that would otherwise be lost within the unthinkably vast expanse of dead data. Resisting easy placement in the cultural marketplace of hot-takes—a reductive discourse native to the same online channels that Cherry’s subjects are drawn from—these paintings decline respectability politics in favor of a nuanced and unabashedly sexy assessment of online drama, distortion and desire.
These paintings are set apart from their predecessors by the subtle inclusion of a male presence: “Let’s Play”-style YouTube gaming personalities occupy the corner of the works, riffing on the picture-in-picture—or critic-in-painting—features of digital streaming. The gamers’ position in the frame also refers to the teleconferencing platforms where everyday life and labor are increasingly centered. Poised within the same “desktop” as the women, the gamers’ gaze is triangulated with the viewer’s, igniting the painting to animate itself.