Press Releases :: Jezebel

PRESS RELEASE – Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
Boulder, CO May 2008

Carla Gannis’s Jezebels rail at the mythology, history and stereotypes that have shaped and defined femininity within our collective unconsciousness for many generations. This archetype is not a single woman but a compilation of multidimensional characters playing in turn the nonconformist, social beauty, revolutionary, wanton sex goddess, victim and superhero. Using appropriated iconography from classic film noir, pivotal events in Feminist history, surrealist dreams and pop culture as vehicles for her nonlinear narratives, Gannis weaves the past, present and future in each of these large scale new media works of art.

The Artist’s method of working pushes forward what has been recently termed “digital painting,” refining and personalizing the process to make it uniquely her own. Gannis begins with a story board for each work, creating a concept which weaves together references from cinematic, literary, and art historical interpretations of “the wanton woman”, and then recontextualizes them into a new tableaux in which her characters convey strength, intelligence, beauty and complexity. Next she shoots photographs that will be used as the “stage” for the character, which she then collages with appropriated film stills in Photoshop. Finally, the Artist goes over every centimeter of these newly combined images with many layers of digital painting, creating a truly unique visual language.

Gannis exhibition “Jezebel” features six large scale digital prints, each with a coinciding predella. Created in the 14th century to illustrate the life of a saint, these horizontal panels were originally attached to the lower edge of an altarpiece as a narrative for the larger panel above them. Gannis adopted this vehicle to give context to Jezebel’s historic and cultural currency, updating them to resemble a film strip which hangs below each major panel. Her subject is always dressed in red, not only as a signifier of lust and sexuality but as an expression of revolution, anger and courage.

“The agenda of a woman making art today should be as complex and mysterious as the work itself,” says Gannis. “Jezebel is a person conflicted and flawed yet forward thinking and courageous. Although I feel there is a feminist bent to this body of work, my hope is that it rises above any kind of ‘exclusive’ interpretation and takes into account a love for cinema and fascination with the history of narrative form and its new possibilities as expressed through my digital media collage.”

Carla Gannis, originally from North Carolina, currently lives and works in New York. Trained as a painter and having received her BFA from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her MFA from Boston University, Gannis shifted to producing digital print and multi-media installation work in the late 1990’s.

Gannis is the recipient of several awards, including a 2005 New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Grant in Computer Arts, an Emerge 7 Fellowship from the Aljira Art Center, and a Chashama AREA Visual Arts Studio Award in New York, NY. She has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Her most recent solo exhibitions include Jezebel at Claire Oliver Gallery in New York, Everything That Rises Must Converge at Kasia Kay Art Projects Gallery in Chicago, Il, Jezebel presented by Claire Oliver Gallery at Loop Video Art Fair, Barcelona, Spain; and I Dream of Jeannie Emerging from a Fresca Bottle at Christa Schuebbe Galerie, Dusseldorf, Germany.

Features on Gannis’s work have appeared in Res Magazine, Animal Magazine, 11211, and Collezioni Edge, and her work has been reviewed in The New York Times, The LA Times, The Miami Herald, NY Arts Magazine, The Daily News, The Star Ledger, and The Village Voice. She is currently on the Digital Arts teaching faculty at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and The School of Visual Arts in New York.

PRESS RELEASE – TZR GALERIE Kai Brückner
Düsseldorf, April 8th 2008
Exhibition: Carla Gannis – Jezebel inside
Opening: Friday, April 11th, 6 – 9 pm
Duration: April 11th – 31. May 31st 2008

On April 11th 2008 the exhibition “Jezebel inside“ by the American artist Carla Gannis will open at the TZR Galerie Kai Brückner. Gannis’ work deals with the female archetype Jezebel – a figure of the old testament – one whoimplied for many centuries heathenism and lust. In modernity she is increasingly linked to nonconformity as for example the main character in the movies “Jezebel“ (1938) and “Gone with the Wind“ (1939). Today Jezebel is multidimensional: a brave rebel, seductress, feminist icon who has been given form in literature, film, and musical interpretations.

In Gannis´ large-scale “new media“ artworks she re-invents different aspects of the Jezebel persona via digital collage. A multitude of complex characters is unified in her representations: the nonconformist, the beauty, the rebel, the sex goddess, the victim (bondwoman, slave) and the super hero. Gannis lifts her figures on a newly-created stage from where they radiate strength, intelligence and complexity. They now triumph over mythology, history and stereotypes which have formed and defined in the collective subconsciousness the term of femaleness for generations. Her main characters wear red – just as the historic example, not only as a signifier of lust and sexuality, but as an expression of courage and revolution in resistance of the cliché.

The exhibition comprises large-scaled digital prints, a wall installation, a life-size silhouette, a PHSCologram created in collaboration with (art)n*, and an interactive digital game work which can be experienced on the website of the gallery as well as in the gallery itself. In her artwork Gannis expresses her contemporary re-interpretation of the Jezebel-myth through image and metaphor. In the context of the digital age the interpretation of this topic, with the help of computer-based techniques, is only logical and consequent.

* was formed in 1983 by Ellen Sandor and her peers at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since then, it has evolved into an international, interdisciplinary collective of artists, scientists, and engineers whose works have been collected by institutions and individuals worldwide. (art)n’s portfolio is exceptionally wide-ranging, including PHSColographic renditions of iconic works by the Chicago Imagists; site-specific, visual history installations; biology-based works; and everything in between.

Ellen Sandor and (art)n’s patented invention, the PHSCologram is an acronym for photography, holography, sculpture and computer graphics. The PHSCologram imagery is digitally sculpted, lit, rendered, and captured at as many as 64 slightly different positions across a horizontal plane with a 3-D software application. Then the frames are
woven into an interleave with (art)n’s proprietary art program for a final output to transparent film. (art)n’s software generates a matching linescreen that allows our eyes to interpret the final backlit photograph as a three-dimensional sculpture.
PRESS RELEASE – Claire Oliver Gallery
March 22, 2007

Jezebel
Carla Gannis’ Jezebels rail at the mythology, history and stereotypes that have shaped and defined femininity within our collective unconsciousness for many generations. This archetype is not a single woman but a compilation of multidimensional characters playing in turn the nonconformist, social beauty, revolutionary, wanton sex goddess, victim and superhero. Using appropriated iconography from classic film noir, pivotal events in Feminist history, surrealist dreams and pop culture as vehicles for her nonlinear narratives, Gannis weaves the past, present and future in each of these large scale new media works of art.

The Artist’s method of working pushes forward what has been recently termed “digital painting”, refining and personalizing the process to make it uniquely her own. Gannis begins with a story board for each work, creating a concept which weaves together references from cinematic, literary, and art historical interpretations of “the wanton woman”, and then recontextualizes them into a new tableaux in which her characters convey strength, intelligence, beauty and complexity. Next she shoots photographs that will be used as the “stage” for the character, which she then collages with appropriated film stills in Photoshop. Finally, the Artist goes over every centimeter of these newly combined images with many layers of digital painting, creating a truly unique visual language.

Gannis exhibition “Jezebel” features six large scale digital prints, each with a coinciding predella. Created in the 14th century to illustrate the life of a saint, these horizontal panels were originally attached to the lower edge of an altarpiece as a narrative for the larger panel above them. Gannis adopted this vehicle to give context to Jezebel’s historic and cultural currency, updating them to resemble a film strip which hangs below each major panel. Her subject is always dressed in red, not only as a signifier of lust and sexuality but as an expression of revolution, anger and courage.

“The agenda of a woman making art today should be as complex and mysterious as the work itself,” says
Gannis. “Jezebel is a person conflicted and flawed yet forward thinking and courageous. Although I feel there is a feminist bent to this body of work, my hope is that it rises above any kind of ‘exclusive’ interpretation and takes into account a love for cinema and fascination with the history of narrative form and its new possibilities as expressed through my digital media collage.”
PRESS RELEASE – LOOP Video Art Fair 2006
Claire Oliver presents: Jezebel
A multi-media installation by Carla Gannis

Carla Gannis’ 5 screen video installation Jezebel is part cultural anthropology and part dream-scape surrealism. Her “Jezebels” are set within fragmentary layered interiors, where past and present worlds collide. Ornate rooms, church sanctuaries and institutional green hospitals are “wallpapered” with urban graffiti and detritus. Jezebel is a woman caught between realities, existing in the future, present and past simultaneously.

Approaching the work as a three dimensional moving painting, Gannis’ Jezebel intimates the mythology, history, and stereotypes that shape and define femininity within our collective unconscious. This icon is not one woman, but many, ranging from a villain to a non-conformist to a superwoman of human empowerment. The color red as a signifier of lust, sexuality, wantonness, as well as revolution, anger, and courage; we see this color wrapping not only the figure but her words.

Gannis, a native of the Southern United States, was first inspired by the 1938 film in which an outspoken 19th century Southern belle — played by the actress Bette Davis — is ostracized and labeled a “Jezebel” for wearing a red dress, instead of a “virginal” white dress, to a formal ball. From this character, one Gannis could personally and regionally identify with; the artist researched the more universal interpretations and contradictions that surround the avatar Jezebel.

In a reference to cinema and painting, Gannis provides five mise en scènes that give context to Jezebel’s historic and cultural currency. She has collected numerous texts and woven them together into visual and textual personifications. Her five representations include:

Jezebel PIAF: based on singer Edith Piaf’s loving tribute to Jezebel and includes texts that address darkness and religious antithesis
Jezebel THE PREACHER : based on the age-old representation of Jezebel as a pagan temptress (contemporary religious leaders still refer to “Jezebel” as an entity that is threatening in these texts)
Jezebel THE RAP: where misogynistic lyrics and a sexualized Jezebel are inverted, and where language in regards to female sublimation explains much of Jezebel’s villainy
Jezebel BETTE: where monologue is taken from the original “coquettish” Bette Davis performance
Jezebel CHRISTINA: the woman who actually plays Jezebel in this work, as herself, a real woman, who contends with racial and personal identity politics — politics not dissimilar to those encountered by black female slaves as well as white females activists derogatorily called “Jezebels” during the first 200 years of US history.