Sharon Hayes

Sharon Hayes

Whitney Museum of American Art

Sharon Hayes, Voice Portraits: Aya, Stokely, Lola, 2012. Video, color, silent.*

June 19, 2012

Sharon Hayes
There’s so much I want to say to you

June 21–September 9, 2012

Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
New York, NY 10021

Beginning June 21, artist Sharon Hayes (b. 1970) will take over the Whitney Museum of American Art’s third floor Peter Norton Family Galleries for a project-based exhibition, her largest museum show to date. The exhibition features a group of new works specially commissioned by the Whitney, alongside a selection of existing works, all of which articulate different forms of what the artist refers to as “speech acts.” Hayes has collaborated with artist Andrea Geyer to create a large site-specific structure that contains all the works in the show, and also functions as an independent artwork.

Using the vernacular of transient staging for trade shows, political rallies, and other outdoor events, Hayes and Geyer’s space—a large wooden floor with platforms, low walls, and seating arrangements—creates a place for the staging of speech of various kinds. Banners, signs, video and film projections, sound works, a newly pressed vinyl record, fliers, record covers, posters, photographs, and a performance use both political language and deeply personal declarations of desire, longing, and love to create forms of address that act as both communication and action.

Now a chasm has opened between us that holds us together and keeps us apart, a 100-foot-long white curtain, introduces the exhibition, its obscuring of what lies immediately beyond it creating a sense of anticipation that evokes the performative action of the stage. The applicability of the title and the meaning of the work to either the current political situation or an emotional relationship underscore the location of Hayes’ work in the overlap between history, politics, and love.

Other new works commissioned for the exhibition include I Saved Her a Bullet, a large-scale overhead projection of the moment when the notoriously homophobic ex-beauty queen and singer Anita Bryant was hit in the face by a pie by gay activist Thom Higgins during a news conference in Des Moines in 1977. InGay Power, a film installation made in collaboration with 1960s feminist activist Kate Millett, Hayes and Millett recorded a voice-over that comments on unedited film footage that Millett and the other members of the Women’s Liberation Cinema shot of the second annual Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade celebrating the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in New York in 1971.

Hayes’ collaborative approach takes a different form in Join Us, for which she has assembled 600 fliers borrowed from individual activists and archives across America from the 1960s to the present, hung salon-style in a loose grid. The fliers, whose subjects include protesting the Vietnam War, the policies of Ronald Reagan, the American invasion of Iraq, and rallying people to gay rights marches, are brought together by Hayes in an action that becomes a collective invitation to participation.

These and other newly commissioned works are set in dialogue with a number of existing works includingSymbionese Liberation Army (SLA) Screeds #13, 16, 20 & 29 (2003); Everything Else Has Failed! Don’t You Think it’s Time for Love? (2007); Yard (Sign) (2009/2012); I March in the Parade of Liberty, But As Long As I Love You I Am Not Free (2007–2008); and other works, creating a richly layered environment of text, image, and sound. There’s so much I want to say to you becomes a declaration to us, the viewers; to an unknown lover; and to an unidentified public, in a complex dialogue between the domains of public, private, and political speech.

*Image above:
Sharon Hayes, “Voice Portraits: Aya, Stokely, Lola,” 2012. Video, color, silent. Courtesy Sharon Hayes and Tanya Leighton Gallery. Performers: Aya Ogawa, J.D. Stokley, Lola Pashalinski.



There's so much I want to say to you: Sharon Hayes at the Whitney
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Whitney Museum of American Art
June 19, 2012

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