Pat McCarthy’s first solo exhibition with Ever Gold Gallery, Shelters (San Francisco, September 10 – October 17, 2015), explored the ritualized carpentry of sheltering pigeons — architecturally and poetically, using sculpture and film. The artist has been raising and training pigeons for 4 years on a rooftop in Brooklyn. The majority of the pigeons are born in one of McCarthy’s large coops, others arrive of their own accord, and others are bought or traded for at the local pigeon market. All are free to fly and return at their will. McCarthy endures a daily custodial stewardship of the coops, feeding, boarding, and nursing the animals. The works in Shelters survey intersections in this relationship between superintendent and flock.
Above image: Pat McCarthy, Detail of Flights Cinematheque (Issue 2)
Functioning bird cages flank the exhibition space. They are assemblages of a range of materials found at-hand in the artist’s environmental landscape — rebar, tar paper, plastic crate — and his personal landscape — denim, porcelain, and bamboo. The interiors of the cages are designed with only the bird in mind, providing their desired minimalist comforts. The exteriors reveal a portrait of the artist in his role as keeper. They are architectural in form and composition, existing as robust autonomous homes.
These pigeon-houses function as projection booths, dubbed by the artist “Cinematheques.” Each sculpture screens a unique Super 8 film directly onto the gallery’s opposing wall and viewers must walk the space between the two. The films depict the flights of the pigeons in their native sky. A situation is presented echoing and reinterpreting that which was experienced on the artist’s roof. The flatness of the sky opposes the brutal physicality of the roof. Inside the Cinematheques, a live pigeon from the New York flock stands as supervising projectionist: an ambassador to the world seen in the films.
Also included in the exhibition are a number of sculptural wall works. Interpretations of the artist’s pigeoning fanzine, Born to Kill, executed in paper and on porcelain tablet. Finally, a large grid of color-coded ceramic perches were taken directly out of McCarthy’s primary pigeon coop. The artist states:
“I wake up each morning and climb the fire escape to the roof. Communities need management. The hundreds of pigeons that occupy Babylon Coops in Brooklyn are domestic; they rely on daily human intervention and care. Routine is paramount. Every damn day the trough must be filled with seed — an imported European blend of safflower, soybean, wheat, and fine French corn. Afterwards, the floor is scraped and neatly swept, and usually the birds are given a bath. In the early evenings, the coop doors are opened and they fly. The pigeon keeper provides flight coaching, waving his bamboo flag and blowing his whistles, training the flock to fly more athletically or more gracefully around the neighborhood. Raising pigeons makes for a career with few vacations — but the pigeon keeper constantly has travel on his mind as they watch the birds navigate the open sky. The coops I build are visions of all the world’s hotels I’ll never get the time to stay in.”
McCarthy has recently had solo exhibitions at Agnès B., New York (2015); Mudd Guts, Brooklyn (2014); and Delire Gallery, Brussels (2013). Group exhibitions include Field Effects, le Cap, Rencontres d’Arles Festival, Arles (2015); Thanks for Nothing, Muddguts, Brooklyn (2014); The Smiley Face Show, Salon 94, Frieze London; Satan Ceramics, Salon 94, New York; It’s an Invasion, National Arts Club, New York; la Dernière Vague, la Friche de la Belle de Mai, Marseille (2013); and In Praise of Chance and Failure, Family Business, New York. Honors include Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School (2012) and Tom Sachs Space Program (2012 & 2007). Text courtesy Gallery etc.
Text courtesy of the gallery, edited by CFile.
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