Mary Walling Blackburn at Swimming Pool

Artist: Mary Walling Blackburn

Exhibition title: E%

Curated by: Laurel Ptak (Art in General, New York)

Venue: Swimming Pool, Sofia, Bulgaria

Date: July 15 – August 20, 2017

Photography: Yana Lozeva, all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Swimming Pool, Sofia

Art in General presents a newly commissioned work and performance by artist Mary Walling Blackburn in partnership with SWIMMING POOL in Sofia, Bulgaria.

For a hundred years, the sermon chart—an American folk form—served as a preacher’s graphic aid and was executed by the preacher on bed sheets; the charts were pinned to altars or tied with rope to trees. Here logic does not flow; it pools.

In an alternate universe, a reader walks through a small canyon and these charts hang from ledges, secured by rocks for a quarter of a mile. The charts diagram the seam where a reader’s psyche has bonded with book:

I, Little Asylum by Emmanuelle Guattari; Bhanu Kapil’s Schizophrene; Cristina Perri Rossi’s State of Exile; Yoko Tawada’s The Bridegroom Was a Dog; Silvia Federici’s Caliban the Witch; Guy Hoquengham’s The Screwball Asses; A Lesson in Dead Language by Adrienne Kennedy; Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black by Cookie Mueller; The Little Black Book of Griselidis Real: Days and Nights of an Anarchist Whore, The Spotted Hyena: A Study of Predation and Social Behavior; Hilda Hilst (various novella); Thoreau’s Shipwrecks essay…and so on.

Mary Walling Blackburn has researched and explored the sermon chart as visual and performative object since 2012, generating charts that draw from experience and texts onto her family’s beds sheets; diagrams that are anti-patriarchal, anarchist and non-functional.

In an era characterized by extreme polarization of positions and echo chambers in many contexts, Walling Blackburn asks us to examine what it means to seek to convert another to a belief system and on what terms? What space lies between the evangelized and unevangelized? In her new commission the artist explores this space, creating a collaboratively-made chart specific for the context of SWIMMING POOL, with a number of previous charts made by Walling Blackburn also on view.

Е% is Walling Blackburn’s first international solo exhibition.

Mary Walling Blackburn works in New York City. Her work and writing have been featured in publications including Afterall, BOMB, Cabinet, e-flux journal, Pastelegram, Grafter’s Quarterly and Sharjah Biennial 13: Tamawuj. Her projects have been shown in solo exhibitions across the United States and three of her sermon charts have recently been performed at Beta-Local, San Juan; St. Marks Poetry Project, New York City and Triangle in Brooklyn.

Art in General is a nonprofit contemporary art organization that assists artists with the production and presentation of new work. Founded in 1981 by artists, it has been a pioneering force unlike any other institution in New York City, supporting thousands of local and international artists early in their careers. Alongside Art in General’s exhibition programs that take place in New York and internationally, its public programs and publications examine critical and timely issues in artistic and curatorial practice, with a current focus on the politics of land. Since 2017, Laurel Ptak is Art in General’s Executive Director and Curator.

This project is generously supported by the Trust for Mutual Understanding and the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation as part of Art in General’s International Collaborations program.

With the support of Sofia Cultural Program.

Mary Walling Blackburn, E%, 2017, exhibition view, Swimming Pool, Sofia

Mary Walling Blackburn, tsipaR a xeH ot woH, 2016, Bed sheet, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, Picture as Wound, 2016, Bed sheet, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, Picture as Wound, (detail), 2016, Bed sheet, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, tsipaR a xeH ot woH, (detail), 2016. Bed sheet, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, Traveler’s Dick, 2015, Camp blanket, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, Traveler’s Dick, 2015, Camp blanket, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, Traveler’s Dick, 2015, Camp blanket, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, Traveler’s Dick, 2015, Camp blanket, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, E%, 2017, exhibition view, Swimming Pool, Sofia

Mary Walling Blackburn, Portrait of the Artist’s Mama, 2015, Bed sheet, pencil, paint, wood stain, charcoal

Mary Walling Blackburn, Portrait of the Artist’s Mama, 2015, Bed sheet, pencil, paint, wood stain, charcoal

Mary Walling Blackburn, Portrait of the Artist’s Mama, 2015, Bed sheet, pencil, paint, wood stain, charcoal

Mary Walling Blackburn, E%, 2017, exhibition view, Swimming Pool, Sofia

Mary Walling Blackburn, Knock-Off, made in collaboration with Ina Valentinova, 2017, Bed sheet, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, Knock-Off, made in collaboration with Ina Valentinova, 2017, Bed sheet, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, Knock-Off, made in collaboration with Ina Valentinova, 2017, Bed sheet, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, E%, 2017, exhibition view, Swimming Pool, Sofia

Mary Walling Blackburn, Family Residency, 2015, bed sheet, pencil, paint, walnut ink, charcoal

Mary Walling Blackburn, Family Residency, 2015, bed sheet, pencil, paint, walnut ink, charcoal

Mary Walling Blackburn, Family Residency, 2015, bed sheet, pencil, paint, walnut ink, charcoal

Mary Walling Blackburn, Family Residency, 2015, bed sheet, pencil, paint, walnut ink, charcoal

Mary Walling Blackburn, E%, 2017, exhibition view, Swimming Pool, Sofia

Mary Walling Blackburn, The People’s Businessman?, 2015. Bed sheet, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, The People’s Businessman?, 2015. Bed sheet, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, Super Groupie and Her Capitalist Mind Tricks, 2015, Bed sheet, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, Super Groupie and Her Capitalist Mind Tricks, 2015, Bed sheet, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, Super Groupie and Her Capitalist Mind Tricks, 2015, Bed sheet, pencil, paint

Mary Walling Blackburn, Banner, made in collaboration with Staples, 2017. Commercial printing process, paper

Mary Walling Blackburn, TsipaR a xeH ot who, 2017, Video documentation of afternoon rehearsal with interpretation and sound by Alexandra Buschman and Shanti Lalita, in Beta-Local, San Juan

Mary Walling Blackburn, TsipaR a xeH ot who, 2017, Video documentation of afternoon rehearsal with interpretation and sound by Alexandra Buschman and Shanti Lalita, in Beta-Local, San Juan

Mary Walling Blackburn, TsipaR a xeH ot who, 2017, Video documentation of afternoon rehearsal with interpretation and sound by Alexandra Buschman and Shanti Lalita, in Beta-Local, San Juan

Mary Walling Blackburn, Egress (Parade Route/Migration Corridor/The Riot’s Course/A HikingTrail), 2015, Bed sheet, pencil, paint.

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