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The Whoas of Female Tragedy II, Jaimie Warren’s solo exhibition at The Hole, while at points disturbing, is just as often amusing and consistently effective (if not always economical) in questioning who is laughing at whom in a world increasingly preoccupied with shameless (and perhaps shameful) self-promotion through the ever-easier dissemination of images. From the ironic double entendre of the show’s title to the divertingly campy social commentaries of her work’s facetiously composed self portraits, Warren has put together a body of work that highlights the strange juxtapositions spawned in a virtual age from the cross pollination of female stereotypes, art history, celebrity culture, and even food fanaticism.
Following in the self-portraiture tradition established by Cindy Sherman and Nikki Lee, Warren has pushed the medium in a way that turns the mirror back to an audience existing in a world where irony has become ubiquitous and anyone with a smart phone can be an artist. The Whoas of Female Tragedy II brings together three series of self-portraits, all inspired by preexisting Photoshopped puns found online, making all of her works, to varying degrees, clever copies of copies.
The first series pools recreations of recreated scenes from iconic paintings. The second series does the same for found memes that have combined celebrities with images of food while a third series of diptychs was inspired by images found on totallylookslike.com that pair celebrities with objects, animals, food, other celebrities, etc. to reveal humorous and unexpected resemblances. While the found inspirations for Warren’s work are mostly photoshopped, Warren’s work is completely free of digital editing and instead employs clever and charming DIY makeup, props, masks, and costumes that, for all their layers, can’t conceal what appears to be the great fun Warren has had in making her work.
And the resulting pieces are fun(ny) to see. Self-portraits from the second series such as Oreoprah, Lasagna Del Rey, and Madonut all warrant chuckles alongside more Warren appearances as characters such as Yoda, Jesus, Santa amid recreated scenes from the likes of Picasso, Rembrandt, and Bellini. Yet the humor, for all it’s good nature and bright mascara, remains rather dark as a commentary on the state of both high and low (pop) culture and the lightness with which so many people seem to carry/treat them.
Where the artful irony of Cindy Sherman’s portraits take serious aggression in revealing much of the hypocrisy and social fallacies of the past decades, Warren’s more kitschy treatment of preexisting ironic material captures and amplifies the sights (and perhaps sounds) of birds who have come to like their cages and can do nothing more than laugh from within.
Jaimie Warren is a photographer and performance artist living in Kansas City, MO. She has had her first solo artist monograph published by Aperture (New York, NY) in 2008, and her work is featured in the Rizzoli publication “SHOOT: Photography of the Moment” featuring 26 photographers including Nan Goldin, Juergen Teller and Wolfgang Tillmans, which was released at the New Museum in New York in 2009. Warren has exhibited at Smith-Stewart and Steven Kasher, New York; David Castillo, Miami; Atlanta Center for Contemporary Art, Atlanta; Max Wigram, London; Showroom for Media and Moving Art, Rotterdam, NL; Getsumin, Osaka; Beida University, Beijing; Colette, Paris, with solo exhibitions at The Hole, New York, and White Flag Projects, St. Louis, and solo museum exhibitions at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the Miami Dade College Museum of Art & Design.