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The After Party, Jack the Pelican Presents, Febuary 20th through March 21, 2004

Press Release -

Graham Guerra draws on powerful 3D technologies of the 21st century to create a super-realm of radically dehumanized citizen consumers. They grasp at totems of power with frenzied automaton instinct. Not in the least concerned that they are chickens with their heads cut off, tossed in space and falling or chopping themselves to bits.

Guerra strides forward in the steps of the great religious painters of centuries past. His feast of myopic, hyper-sexed excess points to Bosch. His ballooned woman floating skyward to the clouds recall the ecstatic ascensions of Tiepolo, Veronese, Guido Reni. And his fantastic, quasi-cinematic scale riffs on the postdiluvian epics of 19th-century populist painter and printmaker John Martin. But God has gone missing. And along with Him, anything that would pass for human.

This is adolescent Virtual America. Muscle cars and muscle men, babes with big boobs and beer are cryogenically suspended in a polygon matrix, rendered simultaneously more fake and more real than you have ever seen. News alert— VRML (virtual reality markup language) and 3D rendering programs are taking over the down-market visual landscape faster than kudzu. The future is a texture mapped onto a polygon grid.

Operating from within this culture of MUDs and MOOs, Guerra is artist-consumer. That bottle sitting on the beach— He bought its structural matrix online—from his keyboard— turned it in space, textured and colored its surface maps… The rules programmed to govern space and light took over. And voila! Guerra’s formula: 1% inspiration, maybe 39% perspiration and the rest, pure consumption.

In video games, fastest growing and most profitable segment of the American entertainment industry, World Pop America has bloomed into an over-generalized, cartoony and plastic body politic. Guerra magnifies the style—more more more.

As Guerra notes, video games are sex-plosive. Hugely popular among gamers was the patch to bare down to nude nothing 2001 Virtual Girl of the Year, Lara Croft. The gamers’ culture of sharing (and selling) patches to customize the race, age and sub-cultural affiliation of their avatar selves —but mostly their genders and sexual identities—have made virtual worlds the madhouse frontier of social experimentation. Cross-gender play being just the tip of the matrix. Gender here is a post-biologcal construct, freed from its moorings in sexual reproduction. It is an abstraction at the heart of Guerra’s fixation.

Graham Guerra is fresh from the Yale Painting program. He has worked as studio assistant to Tom Sachs and Matthew Barney. He prefers Microsoft's Xbox gaming system. This is his first solo show.

- Don Carroll