Libby Black: Work Out
April 10 – July 3, 2010
A life-sized paper replica of a home gym with famous fashion brand accessories. Work Out is a fantasy world of luxury goods including Chanel free weights, a Louis Vuitton bench press and a Rolex clock.
Creating high-fashion forgeries out of low-budget materials is nothing new for artist Libby Black. Made out of paper, acrylic paint and hot glue, some of her projects have included recreating a Kate Spade store in a museum and a Louis Vuitton boutique in a gallery (which incidentally Vuitton threatened to shut down). In her work, Black investigates the outward appearance of the “good life” and the social, cultural and economic symbolism of the objects she copies. She writes, “My work is about surface, desire and distraction. I am drawn to this subject matter because of my uneasiness and ambivalence about what these status symbols mean to me, and how they function in society.”
By re-making, painting and constructing faux designer objects with the utmost care and attention, Black opens the opportunity for us to contemplate our relationship with the brands and lifestyle she presents. In Work Out we cannot avoid seeing our reflections in the mirror-lined walls of the installation. The sight of ourselves in this absurdly branded exercise room may instigate our own longing for the luxury labels presented. Whereas a gym provides the space and equipment to literally sculpt one’s body, is it irrational to indulge the notion that buying the latest fashion accessory will transform us for the better too? In working on a perfect body on the treadmill, would success be more obvious while wearing Prada? While we may rationally understand this to be false – we cannot, after all, buy happiness or a perfect figure – Black’s Work Out suggests the bizarre promise of high fashion and teases at our own conflicted desires.
Born in Ohio and raised in Texas, Libby Black now lives and works in Berkeley, CA. She received her MFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts in San Francisco in 2001, and received her BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1999. Her work has been shown extensively throughout the United States in solo and group exhibitions, and is held in both private and public collections in California, New York and Europe, including the Orange County Museum of Art, the Oakland Museum of Art, and The Chaney Family Collection in Houston, Texas.