28.03.2012 – 14.04.2012
Clara Chon | Imogen Taylor | Ben Tankard
An episode of Seinfeld, the TV “[show] about nothing” (1) chronicles the reactions of its namesake protagonist as he takes notice of his new love interest Jillian’s inexplicably large ‘man hands’. Eventually Jillian’s crudely coarse hands and its stark incongruity with her attractiveness devastates Jerry to such an extent, that he puts an end to the relationship. The joke here is not on Jillian, but on the abjection Jerry associates with the bleak discrepancy that he involuntarily let himself be subjected to. As Strephon, upon surveying his lover’s vacant dressing room has so eloquently put it: Oh Celia, Celia, Celia shits! (2).
Such bizzaro experiences of the body bears strange verisimilitude to the dissonant pathos one feels in the anomaly of the everyday (3). Within the habituated tundra that is the ‘familiar’, The unexpected- whatever its subtlety, becomes an ontological shock by its own virtue. Perhaps it is within this reflective process of tension in which the divisive lines between humour and horror blur, that one is able to bring into question the status quo of the ‘familiar’ and combat the reductive tendencies of seeing things the way they are. Like when you laugh so hard that your stomach starts to hurt, or that damned T9 function on your phone takes on a life of its own by spelling out its own subliminal messages.
For ‘Man Hands’, three New Zealand based artists Ben Tankard, Imogen Taylor and Clara Chon will be offering their responses to the idea of seeing the familiar defamiliarized and vice versa, revolving around variety of mediums of painting, printed image, textiles, sculpture and installation.
(1) Miller, Patrick D. Editorial:Good-Bye Seinfeld. Theology of Today (July, 1998)
(2) Swift, Jonathan. The Lady’s Dressing Room (1730)
(3) Critchley, Simon. On Humor. Routledge (2002). page 42-3.