February 3, 2008 - Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) - Susan Silton
February 3, 2008

Susan Silton

Susan Silton’s exterior wrapping of the PMCA in a striped fumigation-style tent, part of Inside Out. :Photo: Robert Wedemeyer

Susan Silton
Inside Out

October 10, 2007-January 6, 2008

490 East Union Street
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 568-3665


The Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) is pleased to announce Susan Silton’s Inside Out, a site-specific architectural intervention and installation in two parts. The work, based on Silton’s investigation of the stripe as a social and cultural signifier, includes what will be the PMCA’s first site-specific installation: the museum’s exterior will be wrapped in a multi-colored, striped industrial tarp modeled after fumigation tents commonly seen in the Los Angeles landscape. The museum’s interior Project Room will contain an installation composed entirely of striped goods, everything from housewares to clothing to art objects—a commentary on the stripe’s ubiquitous presence as a seductive consumable. In its entirety, the exhibition considers the curious evolution of the stripe—from its use as a transgressive signifier in the Middle Ages to its more recent associations with power, style, commerce, and abstract painting.

Silton’s interest in striped fumigation tents began in 2004 with a billboard commission, for which she paired an image of a house tented for fumigation with the word SOLD. The tent itself was red/white/blue striped, and referred metaphorically to the political climate surrounding that year’s presidential election. Subsequent research by the artist revealed that during the Middle Ages society’s outcasts (including jugglers, clowns, and prostitutes) were allegedly marked to wear stripes in one form or another in their clothing, and, according to social historian Michel Pastoureau in his book The Devil’s Cloth, were perceived as disturbing “the established order.” In noting this function of the stripe as a marker for otherness, the artist has referred to striped fumigation tents as “perverse Christos” and “primitive Burens,” alluding in each case to the formal aesthetic qualities of the tarps vs. their more practical function: to signal the termite infestation lurking beneath and the presumed remedy for its containment. Silton’s custom designed tent for the PMCA activates the stripe’s complex history in the context of the fumigation tent, and in so doing considers the relationships (aesthetically, metaphorically, and architecturally) between exterior and interior, opacity and transparency, visibility and concealment, transgression and power, perception and reality, and high and low art.

In the Project Room, the artist will continue her investigation of the stripe motif as it pervades contemporary consumer culture, including the art market. All of the striped goods the artist has collected and reinstalled in the space will be for sale, including one of the artist’s images from her related Infested series (2005-2006), which documents houses tented for fumigation in and around Los Angeles. Silton’s striped store reflects the innocuous function of stripes to aestheticize everyday consumer objects, and also points mockingly to the institution’s—and the artist’s—complicity in indulging our American, and even global, obsession
with shopping.

Susan Silton is a Los Angeles based multi-disciplinary artist whose work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions internationally including SolwayJones, Los Angeles; Feigen Contemporary, NY; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles; SITE Santa Fe, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; New Orleans Contemporary Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and Allianz Zeigniederlassung, Berlin. More recently Silton’s work has been exhibited in exhibitions at Vassar College, NY and ICA/Philadelphia. Her work was included in Picturing Modernity: The Photography Collection, SFMOMA (2006) and Selections from the Permanent Collection II: American Art on Paper from the 1960s to the Present, Washington University Art Gallery, St. Louis (2004). Silton has received fellowships and awards from the Getty/California Community Foundation, The MacDowell Colony, Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada, Durfee Foundation and Clockshop Foundation.

The PMCA is dedicated to California art and design from 1850-present and strives to promote the arts by exhibiting both historic and contemporary artists. Silton’s exhibition coincides with the fifth year anniversary of the PMCA.

Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA)
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