Katie Armstrong’s first solo show at BravinLee programs

From time to time, I’ve been checking in with VCS alumna Katie Armstrong, who was a member of the first group of VCS students to graduate in May 2010. Followers of this blog will remember her trip to Leipzig, Germany later that summer to participate in a residency with the Leipzig International Art Programme (LIA). (I wrote three posts about her time in Leipzig, which you can read at these links: 1 2 3)

Since then, Katie has been really busy. Earlier this summer, the animation she made during the Leipzig residency (Once More, Once More) was exhibited in a group show titled LABOR at Galerie Eigen + Art in Berlin. You can read about the exhibition and see images at this link (Katie’s piece can be seen on a wall-mounted monitor in the third photo).

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More recently, Katie has been preparing for her first solo exhibition at BravinLee programs in Chelsea, also titled Once More, Once More. The Leipzig piece will be included in the show, and Katie has just completed another new hand-drawn animation titled Things Tamed, which mashes up reinterpretations of found internet imagery, and is accompanied by an original spoken word song/audio piece. (The animated gifs in this post are all taken from Things Tamed.)

Katie sent me the following description of her work, which she wrote for BravinLee in preparation for the show:

Once More, Once More is an animated piece set to a bittersweet rendition of Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time,” a song dug up from the garbage of American pop culture. Armstrong attempts to give it new life both by singing the tune and by examining what made it so powerful and memorable through image making. It is an experiment in storytelling, a study of time and visual language from the perspective of someone raised on the Internet, constantly clicking, taking in data, repeating and reloading.

Her work has, for the past several years, revolved around the creation of hand drawn animations paired with intimate audio recordings. The nature of animation, video or any other kind of time-based media, lends itself very well to storytelling, but she aims to challenge the way that stories are told.

She also directed me to this article, commenting that it has been on her mind a lot lately. She noted, “The opening paragraph really nails how I am feeling about my work right now”:

There is a move towards artwork and writing that abandons irony completely in favor of sincerity. “New sincerity” has been a buzzword for the art and literary world since the mid 1990s. It was the name of a literary movement in the late 1990s, sparked by David Foster Wallace’s essay, E Unibus Pluram, where he cited the “new literary rebels” following the age of irony and passivity.  These rebels “risk sentimentality and melodrama”; the  accusation of banality; “treat of plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in US life with reverence and conviction.” It’s an honorable, yet completely utopic, goal.

Once More, Once More will be on display at BravinLee programs from September 8 through October 11, 2011. The gallery is located in suite 211 at 526 West 26th Street (between 10th and 11th Ave, not far from the 23rd Street stop on the A/C/E subway line). The opening reception for the show will be on Thursday, September 8, at 6 p.m. We hope to see you there!

(For more information, check out the BravinLee website, or contact the gallery by phone at 212-462-4404, or by e-mail at info@bravinlee.com. Katie also prepared a special trailer for the exhibition, which you can see at BravinLee’s upcoming exhibitions page.)

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