A Soft Opening
 
The phrase “a soft opening” carries a double meaning—the test run of plays and restaurants and the phantasmagoria of orifices, Cronenbergian portals. The common denominator of these two meanings is uncertainty, fluidity, flux. One never knows what will happen opening night when the red curtains draw back.
 
Joey Fauerso’s kinetic solo exhibition, her second at David Shelton Gallery, revels in the flash of possibilities. Across text, painting, film and sound, Fauerso luxuriates in a coiled chaos, telescoping from the whimsical, joyful intrigues of family to the dark, cresting tides arising from a year where the world is gripped with hatred and panic.
 
In Attendance, a six-minute video that splices earthy images of familial play with tactile, stark paintings and a serene ghostly long take of the ocean—all to a minimal metronomic score—euphoria and unease pervade. There is the sense and terror that things are always transitioning faster than one can process.
 
In Utopia, a painted tapestry of medieval proportions, men carry each other to and from a snaking, humid river. It’s unclear whether they are hurting or helping, whether it’s a grim death ritual or a rescue. Though depicted in metallic tones, it feels like steaming Technicolor, charged with the blood rush of immediacy and peril.
 
Similarly, one mono-print piece titled Contrast interjects the text: “Pretend You are A Newborn Baby” with smeared, swirled faces electric with sensory overload. The hinge flutters like butterfly wings between terror and wonder.
 
Several of the works space longer, surreally didactic poems with Fauerso’s monochrome paintings. Some of the text from the poems comes from things said by her children during make-believe games. As Fauerso states, “When children play and make-believe, the assigning of meaning and value is incredibly fluid. There is an elasticity to the naming of things.” These sequences are simultaneously instructive and disorienting, and much of the meaning alights and connects through the process of arranging.
 
The exhibition is inspired by Fauerso’s life, family, what she reads and what is happening in the world. Fauerso is keenly aware of the gap between these streams and the way they lattice together. Marcel Duchamp once referred to the space between components as the “infra-slim”, and suggested meaning could be located within this invisible seam. As A Soft Opening demonstrates, the infra-slim goes on forever.
 
-Neil Fauerso




Natural History
 
Joey Fauerso’s video work playfully projects her take on nature, culture, and gender. Based on traditional Romantic ideals, she critically rearranges discourses of the Art Historical past. In “Me Time,” which records the artist passionately kissing a series of puppets, she is reflecting on the trope of the artist and muse, or, perhaps more pointedly, the Pygmalion myth. Wildly humorous for the first moments, the viewer quickly begins to feel self conscious and awkward as Fauerso establishes a real connection with her seriousness of intent. Hinged on the idea of narcissism and the development of ego, this piece performs the projection of self as the object of Fauerso’s affection, as she plays both roles. Performance, and the ways it influences our self conscious, the ways it manifests in gesture and movement, are a key component of all the films shown here. In “Drama” and “Clearing,” for example, while the performers are engaged in movements that we might expect to be graceful, they more often than not appear as awkward. 
 
Trained as a painter, Fauerso includes hand drawn and painted elements that are painstakingly layered with real life footage to create a fantastical naturescape that in fact is part pure imagination, part appropriated imagery, part actual suburban foliage. She views the construction of these settings as a metaphor for how we think about nature, sexuality, and the nude form. These themes of course also being the subject matter of the films themselves, as she shakes up expected gender roles in humorous scenarios that almost unwittingly engage us in a rather serious examination of some of the great themes of art history. 
 
-R. Schoenthal, Curator 
 
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