Pippa Garner: SELL YOUR SELF

Pippa Garner: SELL YOUR SELF

Art Omi

[1] Pippa Garner on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (still), December 8, 1982. Carson footage supplied courtesy of Carson Entertainment Group. [2] Marne Lucas and Pippa Garner, Get Out, Get Under, 2015. Chromogenic print. Courtesy of the artists. [3] Pippa Garner, Untitled (Calling Card), c. 1995. Courtesy of the artist and STARS Gallery, Los Angeles.

June 20, 2023
Pippa Garner
June 24–October 29, 2023
Art Omi
1405 County Route 22
Ghent, NY 12075
United States
Hours: Monday–Sunday 9am–5pm

T +1 518 392 4747

Art Omi presents SELL YOUR SELF, the first New York institutional solo exhibition of visionary artist Pippa Garner (American, b. 1942). For more than five decades, Garner has embedded her work in the world, often realizing projects outside the confines of galleries, museums, or the boundaries of what has been strictly defined as art. Her works take the form of mail-order catalogs, classified ads, garments, custom cars, and performances on the streets or on television. Garner offers deviant solutions for tackling everyday problems in post-Fordist America. Directly addressing the anxiety, alienation, and paranoia that course through the office and home, Garner proposes devices to deflect, subvert, or retool the mounting pressures of productivity and visibility today.

SELL YOUR SELF underscores Garner’s interest in how self is commodified and instrumentalized in today’s world. Camouflaging her work in the shiny optimism of a sales pitch, Garner expresses pessimism, ambivalence, and exhaustion. Knowing how the language of liberation is co-opted by commercial forces, Garner offers a rejoinder, cloaking herself within the machinery of the apparatus in an attempt to trip its circuit. Garner solicits the viewer to embrace pleasure, kink, and the perversion of mass-produced products as tools for altering working conditions and conceptualizations of self.

Originally trained as a car designer, Garner was kicked out of the ArtCenter College of Design’s transportation design program in 1969 for presenting a car morphing into a human body. Undeterred by her expulsion, Garner conceived of her first major car work in 1973, Backwards Car, a 1959 Chevy with its exterior rotated 180 degrees so it appeared to face the wrong way as it drove. In a gesture at once daredevil stunt and conceptual probe, Garner scaled San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in the work. She was finessing an important principle: how to follow the letter of the law while utterly defying it in spirit. Garner was not alone: her friends and collaborators during this period–including artists Ed Ruscha, Chris Burden, and the collective Ant Farm–used the automobile to interrogate the language of American commerce, machismo, and the slippery boundaries separating art and life. 

In the mid-eighties, Garner began gender-hacking with hormones—a process that she considers a conceptual artwork—marking an extension of her practice from twenty years of altering cars, garments, and consumer products to using her own body as raw material. Much of her work has been in infiltrating mass media, from classified ads to the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. In the eighties, she released several artist books designed to impersonate mail order catalogs, including her most famous, the Better Living Catalog (1982). From the early aughts to the present, as Garner’s vision has waned, she has maintained a practice of producing a t-shirt a day, using iron-on letters to tinker with popular phrases in ways that reclaim their lusty potential and thumb her nose at assimilationist narratives.

The exhibition premieres Haulin’ Ass! (2023) Garner’s newest custom car unveiled on the fiftieth anniversary of her first major car work, Backwards Car (1973-1974). Commissioned by Art Omi, Haulin’ Ass! is a 2003 red Ford Ranger removed from its chassis, rotated, and welded back together, replete with super-sized truck nuts. Fully functional, it will make appearances in the Hudson Valley and New York City this summer and fall.

The exhibition is curated by Sara O’Keeffe, Senior Curator, with Guy Weltchek, Curatorial Assistant.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Art Omi and Pioneer Works Press are co-publishing SELL YOUR SELF, a kaleidoscopic introduction to Garner’s practice that brings together more than fifty years of her work across media for the first time. The book features contributions from Nayland Blake, House of Ladosha, Chip Lord, Ed Ruscha, Philippa Snow, and McKenzie Wark.  Pre-order copies here

This summer, Primary Information is issuing a facsimile of Garner’s 1982 pop classic, Better Living Catalog. Order copies here.

Art Omi will release artist editions of five shirts from Garner’s “Shirtstorm” series. Pre-order here

In the fall, Art Omi is partnering with OCDChinatown to open a pop-up tattoo shop offering tattoos of Garner drawings. The project builds upon several of Garner’s proposals, including getting underwear tattooed on the body.

RSVP for Pippa Garner: SELL YOUR SELF
Art Omi
June 20, 2023

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