'Not Really' Art

By Ashley Rodriguez

Painting by Teun Hocks, oil on toned gelatin silver print.

The art is really displayed, but the works are “not really” themed.

The Castle Gallery, located at The College of New Rochelle in Westchester County, is currently hosting an exhibition titled Not Really: Fictive Narratives in Contemporary Art.

The exhibit showcases the illusions projected onto society through digital images and how such illusions can be difficult to separate from reality. Not Really was inspired by the small, fictitious aspects of modern contemporary experiences and the ways people take those illusions and turn them into a main focus of daily life.

Painting by Larissa Bates, gouache on panel.

In a time when contemporary culture is overflowing with media, it can be difficult to differentiate between fact and fiction. Images that are photoshopped appear to be real, while many viewers consider reality TV and real life one in the same. Fifteen artists contributed pieces to the exhibit including paintings, sculptures, installations, and two video productions.

The displayed videos touch on issues of narcissism and consumerism in modern media culture, particularly for females. One is a parody of a late-night talk show which mocks the nature of seemingly empty interviews with actresses and models.

The second film chronicles a woman lamenting the expectation of being beautiful. Titled “Vanity,” it features a still taken from the 2011 performance video Syphilis of Sisyphus, by Mary Reid Kelley and her husband.

Kelley both wrote and starred in the black-and-white short film, which takes place in the past in an effort to comment on the present. Kelley plays a 19th century pregnant woman whose face is caked in thick white makeup. Through rhyming, puns, and poetry, Kelley’s character pokes fun at the modern-day preoccupation with fabricated appearances.

Other pieces include Jean Lowe’s thought-provoking installation of a mock auction. A solitary chair supporting an auction paddle is set up in front of a glass case. Inside the case sits a purposefully placed Dunkin Donuts coffee cup.

The cup seems to symbolize society’s need and affection for various commodities that are placed, like the coffee cup, on a pedestal. Lowe brings to life blind consumption within the world around us.

Sculpture by Johannes Van der Beek, aluminum, mesh, and steel.

The notion of celebrities has infiltrated contemporary culture to the point of star stories frequenting news broadcasts. Examining public perception of contrived images and instances through art helps viewers separate reality from fantasy. The contributing artists successfully explore the meaning of and dangers behind modern society through Not Really.

‘Not Really’ will be on display until Sunday, Apr 19 at the New Rochelle campus at 29 Castle Place. There will also be a closing reception for the exhibit on Apr 19 from 2:00 to 4:00pm. The ‘Not Really’ contributing artists include Johannes Van der Beek, Alex Bag, Mary Reid Kelley, Patrick Kelley, Mac Adams, Teun Hocks, Adam Cvijanovic, David Opdyke, Greg Drasler, Larissa Bates, Gregory Eltringham, Lamar Peterson, Jean Lowe, Patrick Jacobs, and Alex Prager.

All images courtesy of The College of New Rochelle Castle Gallery.