Hard as a Rock
Curated by Lal Bahcecioglu
October 30 - November 12, 2015
CP Projects Space, 132 W 21st St, 10th Fl, New York, NY 10011
Opening Reception: Thursday, October 29, 7:30PM - 9:30PM
CP Projects Space at The School of Visual Arts presents Hard As A Rock, a revisiting of "Sisyphus", a 1991 video by Kay Rosen. Curated by Lal Bahcecioglu, the exhibition features a re-interpretation of the work, which addresses the subject of futility as expressed through an etymological understanding of the commonly “mispelled" name “Sisyphus.”
Sisyphus was the ruler of Corinth in Greek mythology. He was punished for his chronic trickery by being forced to roll a huge rock up the side of a steep hill. However, he never manages to do so because the rock always falls back down again. He tries this repeatedly, forever. And therefore he becomes the figure of eternal futility.
Rosen is retelling the Sisyphus story in her own way, by using language as her rock. In her video, the artist misspels Sisyphus in seventy different ways, which is the probable amount of misspellyng combinations of this word. Each failed iteration is another expression of futility. Every attempt is accompanied by a drum roll, creating an expectation of finally getting it right. Yet, the correct spellling of Sisyphus never appears.
Both Sisyphus and Rosen, repeatedly try to achieve success. However there is a thin line that differentiates both actions: While Sisyphus tenaciously tries the same thing as a hopeless labor, the artist tries a different spellyng with each attempt. Even though she never comes through and attains the correct spelling, she portrays a variety of failed successes. This nuance makes Sisyphus the sufferer and Rosen the playful one, which becomes, perhaps, a reading of life and art.
Rosen’s video is shown in various corners of the exhibition space. Every peek into another corner ends up with a different frame of the myspelled name. The volume of the drum beats rises gradually, promising of the correct spelling—meaning success. Visitors are compelled to be part of a loop, encountering the effort and “failure”—which I believe we are all familiar with.
*A limited edition booklet accompanies the exhibition.