Kelley Walker

February 25 - March 25, 2006
521 W 21st Street

NEW YORK – The Paula Cooper Gallery is pleased to present a one-person exhibition of new work by Kelley Walker.  The show will take place from 25 February through 25 March, 2006 at 521 West 21st Street.  This is the artist’s second one-person exhibition at the gallery.

In this exhibition, Kelley Walker will present new works reappropriating images from sources as diverse as Civil Rights-era photography, Braniff Airlines ads from the 1970s, images of disasters and current R&B magazine covers.  Walker substantially alters the images in various ways, printing them off register or covering them with scanned or silkscreened splotches and scrawls, not only complicating their reading but also drawing attention to the shifting layers of meaning that images accrue as they pass from one context to another: from the news media to advertising to art, and so on.

In one series of works, the same black and white photograph of a policeman and police dog brutally attacking an African-American protester during the 1963 Civil Rights demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama, is covered with silkscreened drips of dark, milk and white chocolate.  The photograph, originally taken by a photographer for the Black Star Press recalls (but is not identical to) the Civil Rights images used by Warhol.  This particular print, which Walker has shown in various orientations since 2004, will be displayed upside down.  In a further physical shift, the image is printed with a dark “Coca-Colaä red” hue, thus drawing attention to the Coca-Colaä sign in the background of the photograph.

Also on view is a work deriving from a famous photograph of the 1988 Aloha Airlines plane crash in Maui.  Walker’s reappropriation and alteration of the image reveals its multi-layered genealogy: originally reproduced in many publications at the time of the crash, it was subsequently used by Benetton during its notorious advertising campaign of the 1990s.  In 2003, Walker appropriated the Benetton ad and altered it graphically by overlaying scanned toothpaste scrawls.  The image was then reproduced on the cover of Artforum in May 2005.  The work in this exhibition is based on the Artforum cover, further manipulated and drawing attention to its successive brandings.

The exhibition also includes works based on Braniff Airlines ads from the 1970s featuring Mickey Rooney, Salvador Dali, Ethel Merman and others as passengers of the now defunct carrier.  Related to these is a series of abstract works based on the fabric covering the airplane seats on the ads.  Finally, the recycling logo appears as cutouts from steel disks covered with gold leaf or cereal box imagery.  The recycling logo is an emblem of sorts for Walker’s practice, referring to his constant transformation and re-use of “raw” cultural matter.

Kelley Walker was born in 1969 and lives in New York.  Most recently, his work was included in the Greater New York 2005 exhibition at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and in the 7th Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates.  Walker will be part of the upcoming Whitney Biennial 2006, as well as Infinite Painting, curated by Francesco Bonami for the Villa Manin Center for Contemporary Art in Passariano, Italy.

Kelley Walker also makes work in collaboration with artist Wade Guyton, under the name Guyton/Walker.

Artist Pages: Kelley Walker