shit in a bucket
curated by nicole schonitzer and orli swergold
september 16-18 2022 - cigar factory - lic
Poster Design by Michael Dispensa
Poster Image Courtesy of Hannah Winkler
Shit in a Bucket
Zoila Andrea Coc-Chang
Hannah Lutz Winkler
There are few better attestations of one’s specificity of self than shit. It is a potent form of self-expression, whether exclaimed in frustration or excreted with force. Shit is an indication of health, a message carefully drafted, revised, and transmitted by a complex body carnival for our brief reception. It is a vibrant tale of intimacy, yet despite the metaphorical and ideological significance of shit we often relegate it to the lowest, most private, and scorned moments of our lives. It is often considered a product of waste and disgust, a subject deemed undeserving of lending any kind of articulation to. Almost as if it is a basic instinct to do so, we divorce ourselves from shit in a disillusioned and futile effort to create an imagined collective hierarchy in a world where everyone has once popped a squat.
The eight artists of Shit in a Bucket capture and engage the subject of shit in vessels of materiality, ideology, and artistic process through which it can be examined and given expression to. For this exhibition, artists upturn habitual impulses to hide and scorn, instead giving form to the previously formless, alchemizing waste into abundance, and creating a new set of values that provides the opportunity to nurture alternative modes of thought and expression. In Shit in a Bucket, shit is on the walls, hierarchies dissipate like flatulence, and that which is known and familiar is down the toilet.
Zoila Andrea Coc-Chang’s intimate and layered works leverage visual and material specificity of Asia and the Americas to explore complexity, intimacy, and migration between and within these regions. Working across oil, jute, bittersweet tree branches, and food wrappers discarded by loved ones, Coc-Chang uplifts seemingly innocuous items and even waste products as potent vessels for personal narrative. Her meticulous compounding of diverse elements enables her sculptural works to take on unorthodox and richly tactile forms, grounding lived experiences in dream-like renderings.
While many attempt to sweep their shit under the rug, Michael Dispensa thrusts it onto the pedestal of the public eye through his sci-fi reimagining of Metropolitan Transportation Authority-approved excrement-collecting devices. Thanks to Dispensa’s clever solution to an anxiety-provoking scenario, New Yorkers can go on-the-go with his prototype MTA Compost Toilet and Emergency Break. Once shamed, private, and unarticulated acts transcend their imposed social exile instantly, becoming virtuous and unifying gestures for a collective.
Evan Gilbert’s paintings and drawings relinquish the impulse to create distinction between immateriality and form. Subjects and environments coalesce into each other both visually and conceptually with Gilbert’s deft brushwork, existing in a ceaseless and even celestial state of becoming. The works are a relief from compositional hierarchy, division, and judgment, and their surfaces become generous, unforced, and even haunting environments nurturing the development of color and shape.
Through his manipulation of paint and twine, Max Husten creates unconventional compositions that almost appear as though they are still in the drafting process. Glistening, visceral colors are haphazardly yet meticulously layered onto each other while the twine guides but does not coerce the resulting forms. The results of his practice are highly-tactile, almost flesh-like paintings with the visual familiarity of something between a body and a map, perhaps of where it has been, as well as where it could go.
Nicole Schonitzer’s sensual, otherworldly works are situated in a context wherein play, pleasure, and leisure are exalted. Schonitzer develops imagined worlds, characters, and value sets through painting and photo books, in which an excerpt from the latter exclaims, “WE ARE MANIFESTING WHILE YOU JUST SIT THERE! WE ARE REALIZING OUR WILDEST DREAMS! WE ARE DICKS!” The carnal and indulgent are the capital with which Schonitzer’s constructs these vivacious ecosystems, guided by her erotic amorphous figurations and oozing abstractions. Determining where fluids begin and alien beings end is a joke with the viewer at the butt; doused in the pure delight of their circumstance and exhibitionism, Schonitzer’s subjects flounder about, vacant of judgment and displeasure.
Operating in sculpture, Orli Swergold engages in storytelling of her own by borrowing from both real and imagined worlds. Rich narratives emerge from Swergold’s surgical fusion of elements derived from human and beetle digestive systems, which excrete an unidentified yet alluring ooze. Swergold’s playful and bold use of color, scale, and source material yields highly textural paper pulp structures, remixed in an eclectic palette that takes cues from New Mexico’s Ojo Caliente hot springs and Netflix’s Midnight Gospel alike. By toeing the line between realism and the imagined, Swergold aims at human curiosity and impulse to engage with that which seems familiar even as the viewer may desire to recoil from the alien-like qualities of her subjects.
In a formal sense, Yage Wang’s porcelain works are precious to behold and assembled with elite precision; in a conceptual sense, they evoke controlled chaos and cheeky irreverence. In one work, a still life is captured within a 10 1⁄2 inch square in mesmerizing glazes glistening over sculpted forms and repurposed studio debris into a deconstructed, calamitous rendition of a classical Flemish painting. Wang’s humor, measured with a unique agility to render porcelain crustaceans and thoughtful, seated shitters alike, thrusts open a speculative arena wherein high and low brow collide and coexist.
Hannah Lutz Winkler actually employs the use of guinea pig shit in her work among other materials specific to her subjects in a practice that embraces human-animal relationships and relishes in the uncertainty of outcomes. Traversing across a range of materials, species, and media, Lutz Winkler creates situations wherein her participants (animals, loved ones, Craigslist strangers, and the viewer) can engage according to their own direction within the environment. Through her exploratory and sometimes chaotic practice, new values and negotiations emerge in the relationship between subjects and their surroundings, creating happenstance vocabularies of expression.