Stanya Kahn: It’s Cool, I’m Good

The Cornerhouse presents the first UK solo exhibition by acclaimed Los Angeles artist Stanya Kahn.

By Matthew Tyas | 29 March 2012

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Cornerhouse, in collaboration with Abandon Normal Devices (AND) Festival, is delighted to present the first European solo exhibition of new and recent work by acclaimed Los Angeles artist Stanya Kahn. Using humour as a central device, It’s Cool, I’m Good will present a selection of videos and drawings, characterised by the artist’s signature blend of dark comedy, visceral characters and reluctant optimism. Specifically commissioned for the exhibition, Kahn will also premiere her latest video work Who Do You Think You Are?.

Its Cool I'm Good Image

Kahn’s video works navigate personal trauma and resilience; mundane interactions and casual jokes belie a deeper consciousness of environmental concerns, social and political alienation. Yet whether made of flesh and blood, plastic or crumpled paper, Kahn’s characters’ struggle for success (or mere survival) in a profoundly absurd world is thrown into relief by the works’ underlying current of self-deprecating and occasionally fragile humour.

Kahn’s characters’ struggle for success (or mere survival) in a profoundly absurd world…

Kahn appears as the lead protagonist in several of her videos. It’s Cool, I’m Good (2010, as illustrated above left), follows a heavily bandaged tragicomic hero across more than twenty LA locales from the beach to a late night hotdog stand. In Lookin’ Good, Feelin’ Good (2012, as illustrated above right), the artist performs in a giant foam penis, but Sandra and Kathy (both 2009), on the other hand, are intimate, verité video essays featuring the artist’s mother and best friend in which Kahn stays behind the camera. Kahn’s most recent video works feature inanimate objects bravely battling adversarial elements in their own fantastical socio- ecosystems. Hey Ho, Nobody’s Home (2012) creates an undergroundother-world in miniature, whilst Arms Are Overrated (2012) is driven by two paper puppets on the edge of obsolescence. Complemented by numerous drawings and short animations, Kahn’s video pieces are shot in both standard and high definition video and shaped by a distinctive sense of editing and sound design.

It’s Cool, I’m Good is part of Abandon Normal Devices (AND), the North West’s energetic festival of ground-breaking art, digital culture and new cinema taking place annually across the Northwest of England. Now in its fourth edition, AND aims to challenge our way of thinking through experimentation, playfulness and blurring of boundaries (29 August – 02 September 2012, various locations in Manchester and Liverpool). The Festival was established in 2009, as a unique partnership between Cornerhouse, FACT and folly.
AND Festival is part of WE PLAY, the North West cultural legacy programme for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. AND has been granted the Inspire Mark, the badge of the London 2012 Inspire Programme. The London 2012 Inspire Programme recognises innovative and exceptional projects that are directly inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The exhibition has been funded by Legacy Trust UK, creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK.

Curated by Henriette Huldisch, Associate Curator at Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, and Sarah Perks, Director of Programme & Engagement at Cornerhouse, Manchester.

Co-commissioned by Abandon Normal Devices Festival and Cornerhouse.

An accompanying exhibition catalogue containing video stills and a wide selection of recent drawings will be launched at the exhibition preview of It’s Cool, I’m Good at Cornerhouse on Friday 22 June 2012, 18:00 – 20:00.

Art Exhibitions Gallery