Toxoplasmosis at High Tide

Artists: Michael Assiff, R. Lord, Jonathan Santoro

Exhibition title: Toxoplasmosis

Venue: High Tide, Philadelphia, US

Date: June 17 – July 15, 2017

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artists and High Tide

Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease resulting from infection by Toxoplasma gondii, one of the most common parasites in the world. Though toxoplasmosis is estimated to infect 30-50% of the world population, its effects are subtle. In rats and mice, the disease is understood to rewire the brain, making the rodents perversely attracted to cats, thus ensuring their demise. Likewise, in infected human counterparts, attraction to felines is one of the noted symptoms, in addition to paranoia, confusion, depression, and fluctuations in social behaviors and the superego.

Working through the means of found objects, painting, cast sculpture, and built environments, Michael Assiff, R.Lord, and Jonathan Santoro explore the symptoms of toxoplasmosis as a metaphor for the present American political landscape. Their exhibition, Toxoplasmosis, reconfigures familiar domestic objects to create an atmosphere of anxiety, blurring lines between fact and fiction, reality and invention.

Assiff has evoked a paranoiac’s apocalyptic, fort-like movie streaming bunker. The floor is littered with reimagined Netflix DVD sleeves, which cull material from clickbait and alarmist news headlines, turning them into fictionalized film and television programs made for binge-watching. A stockpile of dubious survival materials, including a Nintendo Wii, an engraved mug, and memory foam, is bundled under camouflage netting. Lord’s painting references the chaotic internal struggle between the parasite and the host, forced to act against its own self interest — mirrored in our larger social structures of power and commerce, as individuals are coaxed to buy things they don’t need in order to keep the wheels of capital churning. Santoro approximates a sly take on the primary progenitor of the parasite, the cat, who hides in plain sight. Considering the elusive nature of the disease’s subtle symptoms, he references two famously elusive cats, Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat, and the hypothetical feline of Schrodinger’s famous thought experiment, both representing contingent realities where the cat is simultaneously absent and omnipresent.

Toxoplasmosis is a glimpse into constructions of truths; a look into a quietly apocalyptic future, or perhaps an alternative present.

– Meredith Sellers

Michael Assiff (b. 1983, Florida) is an artist who lives and works in Queens, NY. Recent solo shows include Ozone Flowers at Mascota, Remediation Flowers at First Continent and a solo presentation at NADA New York with Motel. He has participated in group shows at Room East, American Medium, Jack Hanley and Balice Hertling. He has an upcoming solo show, Pier 1 imports, at Galerie Chez Valentin in the fall.

R.Lord (b. 1986, Washington D.C) lives and works in Sausalito, CA, where she is a long-term resident at the Varda Artist Residency Program.Her paintings are epistemological cartoons of reality which utilize confusion as a form of abstraction. Recent shows include “Corpus Rising” at American Medium (New York) and “Safeworld” at Composing Rooms (Berlin), and The New Museum Triennial “Surround Audience.”

Jonathan Santoro (b. 1983, Rhode Island) is an artist living and working in Philadelphia. He has exhibited work with UArts’ Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, Lord Ludd, The Woodmere Art Museum, Icebox Project Space and Vox Populi.

High Tide is an artist-run gallery and project space located in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Through formal exhibitions, performances, workshops and experimental programming, High Tide seeks to maintain a critical dialogue between artists and our local and global communities.

Toxoplasmosis, 2017, exhibition view, High Tide, Philadelphia

Toxoplasmosis, 2017, exhibition view, High Tide, Philadelphia

R. Lord, The Central Scrutinizer, 2016-2017, gesso and charcoal on canvas

R. Lord, The Central Scrutinizer, (detail), 2016-2017, gesso and charcoal on canvas

R. Lord, The Central Scrutinizer, (detail), 2016-2017, gesso and charcoal on canvas

Jonathan Santoro, From Marrow Wonder, 2017, Cast urethane plastic, cast silicone rubber, wire, urethane foam

Jonathan Santoro, From Marrow Wonder, (detail), 2017, Cast urethane plastic, cast silicone rubber, wire, urethane foam

Jonathan Santoro, Box, 2017, Cast urethane foam, MDF, Latex Paint

Jonathan Santoro, Box, (detail), 2017, Cast urethane foam, MDF, Latex Paint

Jonathan Santoro, Box, (detail), 2017, Cast urethane foam, MDF, Latex Paint

Jonathan Santoro, Box, (detail), 2017, Cast urethane foam, MDF, Latex Paint

Michael Assiff, Cache, 2017, Wii, induction burner, memory foam, pillow, engraved mug, camo net

Michael Assiff, Cache, (detail), 2017, Wii, induction burner, memory foam, pillow, engraved mug, camo net

Toxoplasmosis, 2017, exhibition view, High Tide, Philadelphia

Jonathan Santoro, A Grin without a Cat, 2017, MDF, pine, latex paint, cast urethane plastic, cast and pigmented urethane plastic

Jonathan Santoro, A Grin without a Cat, 2017, MDF, pine, latex paint, cast urethane plastic, cast and pigmented urethane plastic

Jonathan Santoro, A Grin without a Cat, 2017, MDF, pine, latex paint, cast urethane plastic, cast and pigmented urethane plastic

Michael Assiff, Cache, 2017, DVDS, DVD cases, wax, inkjet print

Michael Assiff, Cache, 2017, DVDS, DVD cases, wax, inkjet print

Michael Assiff, Cache, 2017, DVDS, DVD cases, wax, inkjet print

Michael Assiff, Cache, 2017, DVDS, DVD cases, wax, inkjet print

Michael Assiff, Cache, 2017, DVDS, DVD cases, wax, inkjet print

Michael Assiff, Cache, 2017, DVDS, DVD cases, wax, inkjet print

Michael Assiff, Cache, 2017, DVDS, DVD cases, wax, inkjet print

Michael Assiff, Cache, 2017, DVDS, DVD cases, wax, inkjet print

Michael Assiff, Cache, 2017, DVDS, DVD cases, wax, inkjet print

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