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New Site-Specific Project by William Powhida Opens at Marlborough's Chelsea Gallery
POWHIDA, Portrait of Genius (detail), 2011. Oil on canvas, 83 x 59 inches. © POWHIDA, courtesy Marlborough Chelsea.

NEW YORK, NY.- Marlborough Chelsea presents POWHIDA, a site-specific project by the eponymous artist which opens, July 27th. The exhibition will be on view through August 12th. Utilizing the entire ground floor gallery, POWHIDA is the artist’s most ambitious installation to date. In keeping with his oeuvre, Powhida has taken his relationship with the art world as the very subject of the exhibition, employing numerous historical departure points and creating a vast conceptual spectrum reflected in the diversity of the artist’s approaches to making art. These references span from the 19th-century French Romantic painters Delacroix and Gericault to participatory performance that de-materializes the object.

Like the artist himself, POWHIDA explores an array of contemporary socio-political and cultural issues germane to the artist’s role in society. In the vein of Arthur Dove’s The Critic, 1925, and Ad Reinhardt’s sardonic How to Look at Modern Art in America, 1946, POWHIDA unabashedly turns a mirror on the idiosyncratic machinations of the industry, allowing an established international artist to look at his role from the inside out.

The artist’s reverence for Duchamp and Warhol is central to understanding POWHIDA as an installation of non-traditional art objects throughout the gallery; these objects signify a contextual shift from the merely functional to the purposely artistic. To signal this shift, the artist himself was physically present in the gallery operating as an autonomous artwork to further engage the viewer, building on the exhaustive performances pioneered by Vito Acconci, Stuart Brisely, and Marina Abramovic.

The artist and objects themselves are the very means with which POWHIDA will coalesce into a divergent, yet coterminous installation immersing the viewer in a manner similar to Oldenburg’s The Store, 1961-62, the experiential amalgamations of Jason Rhoades, and more recently, Black Acid Co-Op, the functional meth lab created by Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe installed at Deitch Projects, New York in 2009. While these installations required significant material alterations, POWHIDA strips the Gallery to its essence, laying it bare.

In the artist’s words, “The gallery is a world unto itself, a social space with a highly codified set of relationships having the formal beauty of a ballet. I will transform it, literally, choreographing each movement, each gesture with every interaction. No two viewers will have a similar experience in the gallery if I can help it. They may never see an art gallery the same way again.”

POWHIDA is generously supported by Flavorpill, The Mondrian Soho and Pernod-Absinthe. A fully illustrated digital catalogue was made available at the time of the exhibition.

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