Exhibition - Carly Mandel: Premium

Friday, Oct 23, 2020 at 11:30am

Urban Glass
647 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

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For her solo exhibition at UrbanGlass, Carly Mandel presents a body of work that reclaims traumas induced by privatized healthcare and the consumer wellness industry. In our deeply entrenched and enculturated life with neoliberal capitalism, it is reinforced that individuals are responsible for themselves and their well-being, even though all of our bodies will inevitably fail us. 

The rise of “self care” alongside the contemporary “healthcare” debate is no coincidence. As state-subsidized healthcare in the United States is threatened, especially during this election year, wellness products and experiences burgeon; with sound baths, meditation retreats, Impossible meat products, or the latest Goop trends being among the most au courant. Consumers are encouraged to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” so to speak, through their purchasing power, which in turn, is directly related to their profitability as workers. Those who are able-bodied or unaffected by chronic illness are those who are more likely to be privately insured by their employers, while at the same time having more capital to spend on wellness. 

Similar to socially reinforced ideologies of labor and productivity, wellness products operate from the mythology that earning more (and consuming more) will be the key to unlocking one’s true potential. At the same time, this ethos disguises or shames those who are monetarily or physically unable to participate in consumer-driven wellness culture, which is actually sick. It tells us that our well-being and life itself has a high, if not unattainable, price. 

Within the installation are new glass, ceramic, and metal works that borrow forms from or re-represent massage devices, grab bars, jump ropes, hula hoops, medical ID bracelets, and sharps containers, referencing Mandel’s personal narratives of physical therapy and disability. 

A talk between Mandel and the exhibition’s curator, Kerry Doran, will be held concurrent to the opening reception on Wednesday, May 20. More programming will be announced in March. 

About the artist: 

Carly Mandel’s practice considers how objects and people are medicalized within late capitalism. Her sculptures focus on how survival is represented through commodities; by re-representing these objects, she illustrates how we are all unable to thrive independent of their consumption. This reveals a paradox: As our society supposedly advances, our bodies weaken, and we see more of a struggle to succeed, or even live, without intervention. Drawing on her personal experiences from observing her process of becoming medicalized, Mandel’s works highlight how we are augmented by medicine and synthetic objects––namely, the privatization of life itself. 

Mandel (b. St. Louis, MO) is an artist working in Brooklyn, NY. In 2015, she received her BFA from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, OR. Her sculptures and videos have been shown nationally and internationally, most recently, in a solo exhibition at Hamtramck Ceramck in Detroit, MI. Mandel was a 2017 recipient of the Emerging Artist Grant from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and a 2019 recipient of a Visiting Artist Fellowship from UrbanGlass. An interview between Mandel and Kerry Doran was published in BOMB in 2018. 

About the curator:

Kerry Doran is an art historian, critic, and curator, with projects based out of Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, and New York. Her interdisciplinary, research-based work centers on politically subversive media practices and artistic strategies; pop cultural channels, circulation methods, and formats; and the relationship between digital infrastructures, socioeconomics, and art practice.

Exhibition Date: May 20, 2020 – October 30, 2020

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