Elisabeth Kley and Conrad Ventur
Regina Rex | 221 Madison Street
“Mentally, perhaps she was already three parts glass. So intense was her desire to set up a commemorative window to herself that, when it was erected, she believed she must leave behind in it, for ever, a little ghost. And should this be so, then what joy to be pierced each morning with light; her body flooded through and through by the sun, or in the evening to glow with a harvest of dark colours, deepening into untold sadness with the night….What ecstasy! It was the Egyptian sighing for his pyramid, of course.”
-Ronald Firbank, Vainglory
Translucent threads of dawn brings together a selection of Elisabeth Kley's ceramic cages with Conrad Ventur's photographs of the underground film star and performer Mario Montez. Kley's flamboyant, yet menacing cages incorporate a range of ornamental motifs--from Chinese and Persian to the Victorian era. The exuberant sheen of the colored glazes adorns only the outside of each cage leaving the interior with a rough, raw clay surface, creating two visual worlds within one object. While the cage is inherently an object of exclusion, in Kley's cage's interior and exterior are in constant conversation, creating a complex persona that embraces multiple psychologies of space and display. Ventur's intimate portraits of Mario Montez, who starred in seminal films by Jack Smith and Andy Warhol in the '60s, were made after Montez reemerged into the art world after a 35 year hiatus. Staging scenarios with Montez sometimes dressed as past characters from films such as Smith's Flaming Creatures (1963) and others, Ventur's photographs present a fluid approach to archiving the activity of a timeless performer. For Ventur, Montez is "collaborator, drag mother and gay grandfather—all in one," and like the screen-test (a form that Ventur has also worked with), these images portray a subject whose character cannot be confined by a single identity or static image, but will always transcend the medium through their performative spirit.
Elisabeth Kley is a New York artist and writer whose solo exhibitions of ceramics, watercolors, drawings and prints have taken place at 39 Great Jones (2014), Le Petit Versailles (2010) and Rose Burlingham (2009) in New York, Schema (2014) and Momenta Art (2007) in Brooklyn, John Tevis Gallery in Paris, France (2012), and at the Georgian National Gallery in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia (2011). Group exhibitions include CANADA, Andrew Edlin Gallery, Haunch of Venison, Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, Exit Art and Rupert Goldsworthy Gallery in New York; A. M. Richard Fine Art and Storefront in Brooklyn; GAVLAK in Palm Beach and Season in Seattle. She has written about art for publications including PAJ (A Journal of Performance and Art), ARTnews, Art & Auction, TimeOut NY, New York Press, Art Journal, Art in America, Parkett, Eyemazing and online in Artnet Magazine. She is represented by GAVLAK (Los Angeles and Palm Beach), and Season (Seattle).
Conrad Ventur lives and works in New York City. His single-channel and multi-channel video installations have been shown internationally. Ventur has recently exhibited at the ONE Archives, LA; CCS at Bard College; MoMA PS1; Kunsthalle Winterthur, Switzerland; Participant Inc. for PERFORMA 13; Museum of Art, Rio; and Sculpture Center, NYC. Recent solo screenings include The High Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and C/O, Berlin. In 2012, Ventur's 13 Most Beautiful/Screen Tests Revisited (2009-2011) were acquired by The Whitney Museum of American Art.