October 22nd, 2020

60 Lispenard Street

P: 212 925 4631

New York, NY

EREHWON

SADIE

LASKA

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Detail of Sadie Laska's Untitled (Head), 2020

Sadie Laska’s EREHWON is a spectacle of collaged and painted banners circling Canada’s project space. Try to remember a time when the display of flags was limited to post offices, parades, or the lawn of an ultra-patriotic neighbor. The meanings and uses of flags have, in recent times, grown ever more personalized and coded. Laska brings a poet’s sensibility to the form and clearly revels in breaking design rules and conventions; subverting flags and their martial and heraldic roots.

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Sadie in studio, Brooklyn, NY (Photo: Joe DeNardo)

There is a transgressive quality to plastering scraps of fabric on the declarative space of a flag. Laska utilizes collage and the power of cut images to extend the emotional force and find wit in a normally sober totem. She starts by painting symbols or dots on muslin. The symbols narrate issues of class and power: a tv talking head, a golfer, a hillbilly, an executive, a skull, that she then recontextualizes by sewing them, like badges, onto banners. The immediacy of this punchy imagery is paired with song lyrics (you ain't got the do re mi-Woody Guthrie) or film dialogue ("I'll be your huckleberry” - Tombstone;) or slogans of her own invention (Dream Harder and Go Fund Yourself) that are scattered freely to activate a “power to the people- type energy. The show’s title EREHWON–an anagram of NOWHERE–nods to the 1872 novel by Samuel Butler. EREHWON implies self-exile or at least a desire for an alternative, utopian space beyond our materialist culture.

Laska works on ready-made, mass produced flags, and often chooses Earth flags as grounds on which to build her compositions. Designed by John McConnell in 1969, the Earth flag has an aspirational, globalist view of the world that eventually became the symbol for Earth Day. Our blue planet photographed from space and placed on a light blue ground is a science-based image that, over time, has become an overly simplistic cliche. Laska both resurrects and critiques her source material; partial to the message and strident presentation, while playfully poking fun at it.

The French group Situationist International is a touchstone for Laska’s work. The SI staged anti-authoritarian street protests in the 1960’s that were marked by absurdist humor and Dada art strategies. Laska creates a mini-demonstration through similar strategies, proposing a way out from the daily grind through “paintings” that are seriously unserious, full of lightness and pleasure. The mildly self-mocking quality of the work seems to be a form of inoculation against dogma. The simplicity to the work appeals: the tapestries are accessible and act as a soothing balm for a roiled world. You aren’t alone, these flags seem to suggest; there are others who care, and despite exasperation, aren’t giving up.

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Sadie Laska in studio, 2014 (Photo: Joe DeNardo)

Sadie Laska (b. 1974, West Virginia) is a visual artist and musician living in Queens, New York. She received her MFA from Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts in 2014. Laska’s work has been shown internationally, with solo shows at Canada, New York; Office Baroque, Brussels; KS Art, New York; and Galerie Bernard Ceysson, in Paris, Saint Etienne, France; Luxembourg and Geneva. In 2017, she was the subject of a three-person exhibition at Newport Street Gallery, London, organized by Damien Hirst. That same year, Laska curated Animal Farm, a group exhibition at the Brant Foundation and Study Center in Greenwich, CT. Additionally, her work has been included in group exhibitions at Night Gallery, Los Angeles; Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, White Columns, Marlborough Gallery, James Fuentes Gallery, all in New York; among others. Laska’s band, I.U.D. has performed at venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, The Kitchen, ISSUE Project Room, Astrup Fearnley and the Kunsthalle Zürich.

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"Incorporating detritus from the everyday world into fine art was a modernist tactic, among other strategies, for assaulting the sacred aura of the frame. West Virginia-born painter Sadie Laska’s deliriously frenetic abstract paintings take what appears to be the opposite approach: She takes quotidian objects—nylon from an umbrella, a headphone cord, a hula-hoop, a bath mat, striped outdoor-furniture fabric—recognizing their texture, weft, and permeability, and integrates them so agilely into her heavily worked (and reworked) surfaces that they become de facto canvases for uneasy merges and strained relations."

—Christopher Bollen, Interview Magazine, 2013

 

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"The Great Tower
The Great Wall
The Great Power
Conquering All"

 


 

"The Great Look
The Great Weave
The Great Assets
Of Make-Believe"

Sadie Laska
Untitled, 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
36 × 60 inches (91.44 × 152.40 cm)

Sadie Laska
Untitled, 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
61 × 36 ½ inches (154.94 × 92.71 cm)

Sadie Laska
Outhouse, 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
60 × 36 inches (152.40 × 91.44 cm)

Sadie Laska
Untitled (Grim Reaper), 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
60 × 36 inches (152.40 × 91.44 cm)

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SHTO-ETO
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"The Great Tower
The Great Wall
The Great Power
Conquering All"

 


 

"The Great Story
The Great Tweet
The Great Businessman
With Chicken Feet
"

 

Sadie Laska
Untitled (Rain Cloud, Office Chair), 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
60 × 36 inches (152.40 × 91.44 cm)

Sadie Laska
Untitled (Head), 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
60 × 36 inches (152.40 × 91.44 cm)

Sadie Laska
Lost in Time, 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
60 × 36 inches (152.40 × 91.44 cm)

Sadie Laska
Untitled, 2020
Fabric and paint
60 × 36 inches (152.40 × 91.44 cm)

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"The Great Buildup
The Great Spin
The Not-so-great offspring
And next of kin.
"

 


 

"The Great Deals
The Great Trades
The Many Promises
The Great Charades
"

 

Sadie Laska
The Weather Is Perfect, 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
58 ¼ × 36 inches (147.96 × 91.44 cm)

Sadie Laska
You Ain't Got the Do Re Mi, 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
56 ½ × 36 ½ inches (143.51 × 92.71 cm)

Sadie Laska
Erewhon, 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
61 ½ × 37 inches (156.21 × 93.98 cm)

Sadie Laska
Untitled (Falling Man), 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
60 × 36 inches (152.40 × 91.44 cm)

CRITICISM WITH COSMO

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Sadie Laska
Untitled (Talking Head), 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
60 × 36 inches (152.40 × 91.44 cm)

Sadie Laska
Dream Harder, 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
60 × 36 inches (152.40 × 91.44 cm)

Sadie Laska
Everything Is Just Dirt!, 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
59 × 36 ¼ inches (149.86 × 92.08 cm)

Sadie Laska
No Utopia for You!, 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
60 × 36 inches (152.40 × 91.44 cm)

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"The Great Betrayal
The Great Scam
The Great Lies
Ad Nauseam
"

 


 

"Change the World
With the stroke of a pen
Make the Great
Even Greater Again
"

 

Sadie Laska
Untitled (Hillbilly), 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
60 × 36 inches (152.40 × 91.44 cm)

Sadie Laska
I'll Be Your Huckleberry, 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
60 × 36 inches (152.40 × 91.44 cm)

Sadie Laska
Untitled (Golfer, Skulls), 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
60 × 36 inches (152.40 × 91.44 cm)

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"The Great Floods
The Great Fires
The Great Wisdom
Of Science Deniers
"

 


 

"The Great Legends
Of Famed Lands
With Great Pyramids
Tilting in the Sands.
"

- “The Greats” by PJ Laska

 

Sadie Laska
Untitled (Jet Planes), 2020
Fabric and paint on flag
60 × 36 inches (152.40 × 91.44 cm)

Installation Views

Photo: Joe DeNardo

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© Canada 2020

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