Southard Reid is delighted to present Observational Comedy by New York based artist Lea Cetera, her first solo show in London.
Cetera makes sculpture, performance and video, integrated and overlaid with one another so as to co-exist in a ‘live’ capacity when viewed in an exhibition context. Video of pre-filmed performance is projected in to sculptural installations, or, it could be said, sculptures are installed against backdrops of projected video performance. The circularity and activation of one form on to another and back on to itself sets up a live theatre-like space, a notion Cetera has been exploring over the past several years.
For Observational Comedy, pre-filmed performances are projected on to and provide anchoring backdrops to two central installations. Shot on each of the two floors of the Southard Reid space – “It is what it is…” in the downstairs gallery, “…Piercing Through Ambition” on the first floor – the projected videos mimic and reflect the space in which they are being shown. The action, featuring two performers, literally references the act of installing the show. Sculptures and objects made by Cetera - linear steel pedestal supports, slip-cast porcelain takeaway cups, plastic and resin cast Bubble Tea glasses - also populate the gallery space-cum-set, operating dually as props activated by the performers as they appear to arrange the show. The filmed visual is accompanied by an audio soundtrack part scripted by Cetera part ad-libbed by her performers. Dialogue veers from a critiquing commentary of the actual work as it is placed, shifted and re-positioned, to everyday chitchat, conversational exchanges that occur in pauses between work, ‘coffee cups’ in hand. The titles of the projected installations’ are quotes from the performers’ dialogue and their chat permeates through the gallery spaces, the viewer overhearing from wherever positioned in the show.
The relative complexity of set up in Observational Comedy - illusory effect of the projections’ in the space, blurring of near past and present, self-reflexive audio commentary - is delivered with an elegant straightforwardness. Cetera strikes a wry tone, embracing the show’s explicit 'Observation' within and of the filmed performances and use of a theatrical 'Comedy' structure, right down to the familiarity of an interacting comic duo.
Cetera’s working with apparent exposure of the construction of the show in the projected installations extends further to a meditation on the act of making itself, with works’ realized from a range of materials, processes and forms. Individual sculptures ranging in material from digital prints on laser cut plexiglass to porcelain, bronze, quartz and himalayan pink salt, operate in formal and aesthetical dialogue with one another. Dapple White is comprised of a steel pedestal framework with marble base supporting a formica cube (which has a small Droid tablet attached, playing looped YouTube video footage of a little girl hurdling fences in the manner of a horse) on top of which a plastic Breyer horse (a collectible American plastic toy), rears in a classical equestrian sculpture pose. Monument is a bronze sculpture of a hand presenting a plastic and resin-cast Bubble Tea cup, resting on a Himalayan salt plate. The shelf works Practice #I and Practice #2 support selected ceramic cups and bottles, along with fragments of colour painted steel. The steel elements are discards from the show’s wider sculptural production and signifiers of circularity once again - integration of the process of making with the process of installation, editing, placement and display in a fluidly performative act of presentation.
Lea Cetera, (born 1983, NYC), lives and works in New York. She recently performed OBE (Outer Body Experience), at Disjecta, Contemporary Art Centre, Portland, Oregon, 2014. Her installations were included in recent group shows We Seem to Still Be Moving, Simone Subal, NYC, Coded Conduct, curated by Isabella Maidment at Pilar Corrias, London, Double Life, Sculpture Centre, NYC, 2013. Her work will be included in an upcoming group show In Response: Other Primary Structures at The Jewish Museum. Cetera graduated with her MFA from Columbia in 2012 and BFA from Cooper Union in 2005.