Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf presents Jessica Vaughn from March 11 to May 21, 2023.
Jessica Vaughn’s new exhibition, “I <3 CUSTOMERS,” showcases her recent works and explores the relationship between absences and their material, embodied existences. The exhibition, which marks Vaughn’s first institutional solo show in Europe, is being held at the Kunstverein in Frankfurt.
Vaughn, born in Chicago in 1983 and now based in New York, uses residual and surplus materials from both industrial and administrative, knowledge-based sites of labor to create her works. Her practice is grounded in a materialistic approach that examines the complex relationships between labor, race, and space and the profound influence of infrastructures on the working body.
The exhibition delves into the depths of social structures that underlie indifferent and democratic organizational principles, such as modules, grids, industrial seriality, and the ISO standards cited in Vaughn’s work. The objects that we come into physical contact with every day become legible in the exhibition as environments that can either situate the body in affirmative and generous ways or be prohibitive and hostile.
Vaughn’s works draw upon the social invisibility and supposed exchangeability of certain forms of labor and the workers who carry it out. The ready-mades embody different and contradictory hopes, expectations, and lived realities that make representation necessarily unstable and fleeting in Vaughn’s practice.
The title of the exhibition, “I <3 CUSTOMERS,” employs the euphemistic language of corporations that use the terminology of care to try to reconcile the social discrepancy that exists between labor and capital, production and consumption, and people at both ends of the spectrum.
The exhibition also addresses the overworked body and states of exhaustion, drawing an unequal correspondence between industry, body, and institution. It contrasts the opposing standards that alternative medicine applies to the human body and its care and that which the economy employs as a measure of its health and functionality. The institution is described as an organism that feels alternately accommodating or forbidding.
To accompany the exhibition, a series of artist talks titled “What Sculpture Depends On” will be organized in May by the Kunstverein, including contributions from Park McArthur, Rita McBride, and Jessica Vaughn, among others. Details of the event will be announced on the Kunstverein’s website.
Curated by Kathrin Bentele, the exhibition invites visitors to gain a deeper perspective into the social constitution of the environments and objects that we touch, wear out, use up, and exhaust every day.