Family Matters

Jillian Mayer
April 9 - May 7, 2011

David Castillo Gallery is proud to present Jillian Mayer’s solo exhibition Family Matters. Adopting a varied command of performance, sculpture, video, and drawing, Mayer’s work is a hybrid of media culture.


The artist forays into the pseudo-science of young adulthood, the chemistry of love and relationships, and the tipping point of paradox with all the saturation of 1980s Saturday morning television. While the intuition of Penny from Inspector Gadget or the cleverness of Gadget fromRescue Rangers defeated a villain each week, Mayer’s work reads as excerpted frames from nonlinear narratives. Unlike scripted television, Mayer guarantees no resolution, and the viewer is left pondering long past thirty minutes.


Mayer’s protagonists are young people and anthropomorphic animals searching for a lodestar in an age when the glow of personal laptops and urban neon renders the night sky unreadable. In the perpetual dawn or dusk of our technological, virtual, intrapersonal, and experienced realities, Mayer identifies both imagination and captivity, rudimentariness and neo-futurism, popular entertainment and moral critique of which Beatrix Potter would approve. The Tale of Peter Rabbit is as inwardly complex and tragicomic as the cartoons, and later sitcoms, that provided stability through Mayer’s nomadic upbringing.


In Getting to know you, an ongoing series that exists as performance, sculpture, and photographs, participants position themselves inside cut-out board scenes reminiscent of amusement park photo ops. The adopted milieu is often a disconcerting domestic realm with an air of passivity despite the contortion of the participant’s body. Participants flop like mute ventriloquist dolls caught between two worlds– literally part of Mayer’s object narrative– Peter Rabbit and Roger Rabbit– a tourist in their own time.


Mayer’s video work also explores disturbance within calmness, perversity within cuteness, and perniciousness within sentimentality. Inspired by her own teacup Chihuahua, Mayer uses the relationship between humans and domesticated animals to comment on the nuclear family, gender roles, dominant and submissive relationships, and the trope of heterosexual love. Her work is a contemporary incarnation of Potter’s Museum of Curiosities, that barometer of Victorian culture that used sweet but stuffed rabbits, kittens, and guinea pigs to portray elaborate scenes of daily life.


The artist’s nationality is youth and her conflict is one between personal identity and contemporary displacement. The seemingly passive act of watching television or staging participants in a performance of inaction for Getting to know you, is as Rush famously sings: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”


Jillian Mayer was born in Miami, FL and received her BFA from Florida International University in 2007. She has participated in exhibitions in the US and Europe. In 2010, the artist’s work was one of the 25 selections for the Guggenheim’s YouTube Play: A Biennial of Creative Video. As part of the Guggenheim’s Creative Video Biennial, the artist’s work was exhibited at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain; and Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Germany.  Upcoming for the artist are the group showFighting, Kissing, Dancing, curated by Carlos Rigau, at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, opens May 2011, and a solo project in December 2011, Fanimaltastic at the de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space, Miami.

Jillian Mayer