Stanya Kahn: It’s Cool, I’m Good

Stanya Kahn: It’s Cool, I’m Good


Stanya Kahn, It’s Cool, I’m Good, 2010. Colour Video with Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. 35:20 minutes.*

June 13, 2012

Stanya Kahn
It’s Cool, I’m Good

Sat, 23 June–Sun, 16 September 2012

Preview: Fri, 22 June, 18h

70 Oxford St
Manchester M1 5NH
Hours: Tue–Sat, 12–8pm; Sun, 12–6pm
Free entry

Cornerhouse, in collaboration with Abandon Normal Devices (AND) Festival, is delighted to present the first European solo exhibition of new and recent work by acclaimed Los Angeles-based artist Stanya Kahn.

Using humour as a central device, It’s Cool, I’m Good will present a selection of videos and drawings, characterised by the artist’s signature blend of dark comedy, visceral characters, and reluctant optimism. The exhibition includes the premiere of new video commission Who Do You Think You Are.

Absurd, poignant, and darkly comic, Kahn’s videos create intimate portraits of compelling subjects as they struggle for success or mere survival despite setbacks, trauma, and destabilised senses of self. The observations, mundane interactions, and edgy jokes of Kahn’s characters suggest a deeper consciousness of social alienation, power, and agency.

In some works Kahn plays the protagonist. In It’s Cool, I’m Good, the artist is a mysteriously injured “patient” who seduces, harasses, and charms a slew of nurses into visiting, possibly for the last time, LA’s boulevards, beaches, and deserts. Personal distress gives rise to a gallows humor in which the body reflects the urban tension and precarious ecology of the landscapes. In Lookin’ Good, Feelin’ Good Kahn wears a giant foam penis out into the world, externalising stand-up comedy’s endless penis jokes with an embodiment that can ‘speak’ for itself. The artist moves behind the camera for the verité video essays Kathy and Sandra, which feature Kahn’s best friend and mother speaking candidly about their lives.

Her most recent video work leaves the world of the living and features objects navigating their own micro-worlds. In Arms are Overrated, two paper puppets skirt the issue of their impending obsolescence, chatting in a haunted theme park, by a pool, in bed. They even try to party, but if you’re made of paper, beer and cigarettes will literally kill you.

A new commission Who Do You Think You Are further develops themes of trauma and recovery, and explores the elliptical concept of success. The film, which premieres at this exhibition, features a self-styled self-help guru whose relentlessly optimistic monologue thinly conceals her own vulnerability.

It’s Cool, I’m Good will also include over thirty of Kahn’s drawings.

Stanya Kahn lives and works in Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include Susanne Vielmetter gallery, Los Angeles and Galleria Perdida/Recess, New York. It’s Cool, I’m Good won the jury prize for short fiction at the Migrating Forms Festival, New York in 2010. Kahn’s work, and previous work, made in collaboration with Harry Dodge, has shown extensively in group exhibitions including the Orange County Museum of Art; The California Biennial 2010; Future Gallery, Berlin; 2008 Whitney Biennial, New York; Kunsthalle Bonn, Germany; Getty Museum, Los Angeles; The Hayward Gallery, London; ZKM/Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany; PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; and Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York.

Co-commissioned by Abandon Normal Devices Festival and Cornerhouse.
Curated by Henriette Huldisch, Associate Curator at Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, and Sarah Perks, Director of Programme & Engagement at Cornerhouse, Manchester.

It’s Cool, I’m Good is part of Abandon Normal Devices (AND), the Northwest’s energetic festival of groundbreaking art, digital culture, and new cinema taking place annually across the Northwest of England.

A new catalogue to accompany the exhibition, published by Cornerhouse, will be available online at

*Image above:
Stanya Kahn It’s Cool, I’m Good, 2010. Colour Video with Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. 35:20 minutes.
Courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.



It's Cool, I'm Good: Stanya Kahn at Cornerhouse
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June 13, 2012

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