DCKT Contemporary is pleased to present A Rogue’s Gallery, a new series of work by MARIA E. PIÑERES. With her signature medium of stitched needlepoint images, PIÑERES confronts media-saturated contemporary culture’s favorite guilty-or-not-guilty pleasure: the celebrity mug shot.
Celebrity culture exists today almost completely without boundaries. In adversity to the tightly controlled studio system generated publicity of Hollywood’s golden era, nothing today is off-limits. There is hardly any distinction between public and private - and the more private, stark, and embarrassingly real, the better. In the 1940’s and 50’s, readers of Confidential and other such scandal sheets collectively gasped a joyfully naughty, voyeuristic breath and eagerly wrung their hands at the novel site of police-file mug shots of Robert Mitchum and Frank Sinatra. The publication of Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon (1958) furthered the airing of Hollywood’s dirty laundry into a cultish pastime and created an outlet for a scandal-loving subculture. Today, especially given the access-all-areas manner of internet-disseminated information, such images are commonplace.
In A Rogue’s Gallery, MARIA E. PIÑERES captures an eerily doll-like Michael Jackson and a seemingly helpless Lizzie Grubman among many others. All are depicted in the police station after the initial brush with the law, yet before the indignant publicist denials and the ensuing round of post-release talk show appearances. In her new work, PIÑERES goes one step further from her previous series. Homespun grandmotherly needlework, already turned on its ear, is taken into the world of stars which have crashed and burned, darkly glowing through the atmosphere, onto the decidedly non-lunar surface of central booking. Both the dazed Nick Nolte and snarling Sid Vicious are given true VIP treatment: vertical diptychs featuring kaleidoscopic serial imagery of their respective mug shots with hallucinogenic multicolored backgrounds—a conscious mirror image of the windmills of her iconic subjects’ addled minds. We see a variety of emotions in these faces, rather then blank slates: guilt or embarrassment sometimes, but, more often, defiance, smugness, sweetness and, most often, rebelliousness.
This is PIÑERES’ second one-person exhibition in New York. Her work has been shown in one-person and group exhibitions at DCKT Contemporary and, recently, in group shows at both Sara Meltzer Gallery and John Connelly Presents.