For Shelley                                                                                                
curated by Joseph A. Gross and Theresa Hioki
326 Gallery
326 7th Avenue, New York, NY

Thursday July 13 - August 18, 2017
Opening Reception: Thursday, July 13th 6-8pm

Rachael Abrams, Tryn Collins, Patricia Fabricant, Ivy Haldeman, Aisling Hamrogue, Heather Morgan, Vanessa Navarrete, Emily North, Sarah Thibault, Janegila Wright

Patricia  Fabricant, Woven Shelley, gouache on paper, woven, 24"x18", 2017

Patricia  Fabricant, Woven Shelley, gouache on paper, woven, 24"x18", 2017

For Shelley unites 10 female artists inspired by the complicated legacy of 1970s independent film icon Shelley Duvall. For many, Duvall evokes a specific time and place in American cinema. Her quirky features and enigmatic style were sources of inspiration for several male auteurs associated with the American New Wave (1968-1980).

In 1973’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Laura Mulvey states, “Cinematic codes create a gaze, a world, and an object, thereby producing an illusion cut to the measure of desire. It is these cinematic codes and their relationship to formative external structures that must be broken down before mainstream film and the pleasure it provides can be challenged.”  The loosening of the constrictive Motion Picture Production Codes in the 1960s granted American New Wave filmmakers more flexibility to challenge the stylistic conventions of their predecessors. Although not entirely breaking down the issues addressed by Mulvey, films from this movement explored previously taboo subjects and critiqued the tense social and political climate that arose after Vietnam and Watergate. This prolific yet relatively short-lived moment upended viewers' expectations and allowed for the emergence of an atypical presence like Shelley Duvall.

Duvall’s failed attempt at selling her boyfriend’s art to Robert Altman thrust her into a starring role in Brewster McCloud (1970).  Quickly an Altman muse, she appeared in five more of his films including Nashville (1975), and 3 Women (1977), for which she won best actress at Cannes. Now both a recognizable celebrity and respected actress, she appeared in films by Woody Allen, Terry Gilliam, and most famously, Stanley Kubrick. Her iconic image was epitomized on the cover of Interview Magazine in 1977. In this issue, Duvall recounts—in an interview with Andy Warhol and Bob Colacello—her reluctant initiation into acting:

DUVALL: Yes, they said, "How would you like to be in a movie?" and I thought, "Oh, no, a porno film," because I'd been approached for that when I was 17 in a drugstore.

WARHOL: What did you do?

DUVALL: The guy left me with the bill for the Coca-Cola. So this time I said, "No, thank you," and they called my parents' house and got hold of me and after a while we became such good friends that I had no fear. I said, "I'm not an actress." They said, "Yes, you are." Finally, I said, "All right, if you think I'm an actress I guess I am."   

By decade’s end, blockbuster films produced by major studios eclipsed the avant-garde and suddenly, Duvall, who had come to redefine celebrity in her brief tenure, fell out of favor. In light of the present political atmosphere, Duvall serves as a reminder that, in a time of cultural turmoil, what is initially seen as peripheral and obscure, may actually bring forth a necessary shift in paradigm.

These paintings, drawings and works on paper (created specifically for the exhibition) present a fresh reanalysis of Duvall’s image, one that aims to look to her legacy from a contemporary vantage point that extends beyond the fixation of the male gaze.

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