FEBRUARY 14 - MAY 4, 2008

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Liliana Porter, Broken, Failure, The Lab, BelmarFailure is an exhibition that considers the artistic implications of disappointment, rejection, malfunction and breakdown. Sounds implausible, right?

That’s what I would have thought until about a year when I went to visit a friend of mine who is now a professor at Cornell University. Jason called me on my cell phone the morning of my visit, “If you drive to campus directly from the airport, you’ll be able to catch Judith Halberstam’s lecture on failure as a political strategy.” “What? Yeah, sure.” And as I sped through the winding roads of upstate New York, I thought, “Wow, I must be really out of touch.”

Speaking to an eager crowd of philosophically-hip Cornellians, Halberstam presented the notion of failure as a means to affirm marginal voices in our

society, people who missed out on the happy social and economic networks of family and work. But, as I listened to her wrangle a political theory out of the concept failure, a flood of images came to mind suggesting that that failure is a wide current hidden in plain sight at the very center of contemporary American culture.

Like its opposite success, failure runs deeps through the fabric of our society from the “Turn on, tune in, drop out” creed of Timothy Leary, to the aggressive nihilism of the punk rock generation, to the identification with the beautiful loser among skateboard and graffiti generation. It’s seems to be the theme of every other story on Ira Glass’ radio show This American Life and Dave Eggers literary magazine McSweeney’s. American dysfunctionality is the very subject of American’s longest running sitcom, The Simpsons.

When I shared my academically inspired insights with artist Ethan Janzer, he convinced me that visual artists have a great deal to say about failure, so I asked him to co-curate this exhibition with me. The works we selected for Failure suggest different ways of failing, and by doing so offer a critique of what we are told is right.

- Adam Lerner, Executive Director

Participating artists: Bill Amundson, Stephen Batura, Drew Beckmeyer, Sam Brown, Chris Buzelli, Gemma Correll, Ian Dingman, Kiersten Essenpries, P-Jay Fidler, Nicole Gordon, Pamala Henderson, Bob Jewett, Rusty Jordan, Gary Kachadorian, Mister Koppa, Jeremiah Maddock, Wes Magyar, Butch Mann, Amanda Marie, Max Miceli, Lauri Lynx Murphy, Lori Nelson, Robyn O’Neil, Eric Ottinger, Qi Peng, Mike Perry, Liliana Porter, Julia Pott, Courtney Reagor, Daniel St. George II, Jay Taylor, Mark Todd, Esther Pearl Watson.

Robyn O'Neil, The Edge of the World, failure, the lab, belmar

Robyn O'Neil, The Edge of the World, 2008
(top image) Liliana Porter, Broken, 2000